Has marketing to women largely stayed in the ‘Pink it’ space?

As in the West, the power of the purse is an increasingly significant factor in sales in urban India. Women are not just buying apparel and cosmetics but cars, homes, vacations, jewellery and expensive electronics. Yet marketing to this prime segment is often patronising and consists of offering ‘pink’ or ‘lighter and smaller’ versions of the same products. This comes across as condescending or betrays a complete ignorance of how women think: remember the thumbs down to Jane Walker whiskey? Yet, when companies make the effort to study women consumers, they create winning products and compelling advertising. This is an apt time for both marketers and consumers to honestly discuss whether marketing to women has largely stayed in the ‘Pink it’ space.

Debate Closed!

67%
Yes
33%
No

Your Views

All Yes No Moderator
Moderator

Thank you all for your participation. More than 65% of you have responded saying that marketing to women has remained largely in the ‘pink it’ space. With increased spending power and greater control over buying decisions, women are now an important customer segment. While some brands have been able to understand women and successfully speak to them, others must take note. The old stereotypical and biased gender discrimination is not going to work anymore. Women (and men) are waiting to be understood and spoken to work authenticity and in a progressive tone. Here’s hoping that marketers and advertisers channel their efforts in this direction.

Moderator

Advertising industry in India is currently under self regulation. Given the sexist nature of content at times, along with the gender bias and stereotyping being perpetuated, do you think it would make sense to have stricter regulation and censorship for the ad industry? Afterall, ads are consumed by masses and have an equal (or even more) impact on society as movies or television shows do. What is your opinion?

Moderator

Advertisements are also criticized for sexualizing and misrepresenting women. Whether it is deodorants, condoms or even mango drinks, marketers have figured that sex sells, and they use it without inhibitions. What is the impact of such ads on female viewers, and young girls in particular?

Moderator

Neera has shared an interesting perspective. Not only are there different demographic categories in women, there are so many roles that each woman plays. She feels that marketers cannot ignore the various roles while addressing women. While that is true, another fact is that men too play many different roles. If we want gender equality, we need to start talking in terms of men as fathers, brothers, sons and husbands too. What do you think?

Moderator

Most of you believe that marketers need to move beyond gender stereotypes and be more positive and inclusive while portraying women. Some of you have also said that pink is just another colour, and we need not be so sensitive about it. A question we need to look at is- should marketing for men and women be different at all? Are we at a stage where the boundaries need to blur and we need to let people be whoever they want to be? As a man/ woman- do you want products and advertisements customized for your gender or not?

Vaynika Singh
Yes

There is nothing bad to associate with pink colours, feminine bottle shapes or sizes while targeting to female... But it doesn’t mean it should be only pink however other colours are also welcomed Women personality is very gentle yet strong.. it’s been observed that women attracts towards the shades of pink or subtle colours while choosing any shopping material or clips or accessories, bags etc.. then why not to talk in the similar language the way they like Approaching feminine shapes and designs in products is something attracts to women being on a more cuter side and that’s how their personality is.. then what’s wrong about it to give as many feminine choices the way they want.. Why to change the norm instead boldly accept it.. This is just an opinion and observation..

Neera
Yes

Women are most powerful consumers in the world as they control almost 80 percent of the household spending. And no longer can the women’s spending powers and influence be neglected. The role of women in the society and their effects has changed. Most of the marketers know that ‘women are different’, but we actually need a deep rooted understanding of how and why they are different. Not all female are women, some are girls; not all women are moms; not all moms are women; they may or may not be ‘forever young’. What is important to analyze are the multiple roles that a female plays in her everyday life. A marketer cannot ignore her role as a mom and talk to her as a girl or women, and similarly a girl cannot be approached like a woman.  Purchases are emotionally significant and communication is important throughout the buying decision.

Rhea Singhvi
Yes

The association of varied ideas (for example, the idea of peace) with color and the association of gender with color are dissimilar in nature. Before birth, children are color coded. It is this belief that derides men on wearing pink making them look womanish or less masculine. It is also this same belief that criticizes women on sporting strong and powerful colors. Business corporations hold a certain social responsibility. With increasing competition and changing times people continue to challenge the norms of the society everyday. Advertisements addressing social issues and simultaneously promoting their companies create a healthy brand image and thus tends to impact a greater number of people. It also attracts consumers who want to make a positive impact with their purchases.

Moderator

Jeena says marketers need to stop simplifying product packaging for women, and assuming that they don’t understand the technicalities. Do you think women only buy things (including gadgets) for their appearance alone?

Moderator

Abha has shared an interesting perspective too. Shouldn’t marketing campaigns evoke similar responses from men and women? Isn’t it time for both men and women to embrace the rainbow?

Moderator

Bhawna says pink is just another colour, and it represents women, just like other colours represents other things. Is it really so harmless though? Vani disagrees as she thinks that pink is fragile and weak. And we need to stop using it to portray women. What do you think- pink or no pink?

Jeena Sebastian
Yes

Yes the marketing and packaging of products want to keep things simple and subtle for women as if we lack the intelligence to decipher complicate things and have no interest towards bolder colours/products. The changing is happening and its all too slow at the moment.

No

While pink is a color that is traditionally been associated with women, it is most often perceived as a stereotype, weak, fragile and timid. The future of marketing should focus on how the new age women want to be perceived. Among the millennials and gen z, we see a drastic shift in the trends and they their urge to disassociate with the feeling of being fragile. These women want to believe that they are different and they have moved way ahead of the "pink '' phase.

Vani Agarwal
Abha Mehta
Yes

Women are becoming a very strong and loyal market segment in India now. This change has been coming for a while but it's here. I think the PinK it Shrink It wagon is still chugging along only because it's comforting to be that way. If we basically agree that both men and women get attracted to different things in a product even if price n efficiency remain constant. I think this will change when women start talking about choices they make and the criterion they adopt to do so. It will also change when Men n Women both ask why some producs can't be as gender neutral as a Book for example. Women have long adopted all the colours of the rainbow and adapted the style of the smart decision maker demographic. Maybe the Marketing teams need to have more women to design campaigns that evoke similar reactions across gender spectrum. Time to embrace the crayon box and share the Pink maybe.

Bhawna Kumar
Yes

Social, family and marketing profiles of men and women(at least in India) have been typecasted as blue and pink since birth. A huge chunk of the population still retains that association. This acts as a quick fix for marketers to develop association and connection using the colors. Unfortunate, but this has delivered results. Another important dimension is to think it from a non-discriminating angle. Like white is associated with peace, green with prosperity it may be okay to associate half the population with one color and half by another as long as it does not restrict the creativity in marketing ideas. Since the profiling of women is changing, pink it and shrink it does not necessarily work for all women. A big proportion of ladies are open to ditch the pink and give a change to creativity and innovation of brand mangers if only the approch smartly. I do :)

Moderator

Rhea has summarised very well how advertising perpetuates the gender stereotypes in society. Is it however, the job of marketers to fix the problems of the society? These are business corporations that exist for the purpose of selling products and making money. When it comes to marketing, they opt for ways that best serve the business. What do you think- should marketers take it upon themselves to challenge the biases of the society?

Rhea Singhvi
Yes

We are conditioned to believe from a very young age that women are damsels in distress who need to be rescued. The association of gender with color starts as soon as the child is introduced to the world. A strong and talented woman, passionate about sports is tagged as a "tom boy." Advertisements about women encourage unnecessary beauty rituals, ridiculing and judging women who are unable to adhere to the defined idea of beauty. Men are the supposed breadwinners and women allegedly survive to serve and cater to the needs of the household. Beliefs like this impede women from taking the forefront in order to redefine the role of women in the community.

Moderator

It can be argued that advertisements, like other forms of media, are merely a mirror of our society. Wherever is happening around us is what gets portrayed by marketers. Why do we then get so offended by gender stereotyping? Do we not need to fix problems in our society and culture first?

Vishal Kumar Patel
Yes

Vishal kumar patel

Moderator

Karthika has pointed out that most marketing heads are men, and they do not very well understand what women want. The same may not be true for advertising agencies though, which mostly have an equal ratio of men and women. What stops women in these agencies to eliminate stereotypes from ads and create products and campaigns that truly address women’s needs?