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Rise above Gender Marketing: The Future is Gender Neutral Gender Neutrality is what the brands are missing on, they must overcome this blockage gender-based marketing in order to grow

By Jitendra Karsan

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Blue is for girls and pink is for boys. Strange, right? Apparently not. In 1918, trade publication Earnshaw's Infant Department stated that "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and daintier, is prettier for the girl." Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies whereas pink for brown-eyed babies.

How is a Trend Set?

Today's colour norms of pink for girls and blue for boys wasn't established until the 1940s and this is a good example of how every generation defines what is feminine or masculine acceptability at a particular point of time. Gendered marketing has proven to have built larger sales for brands who forayed into this pattern in the last century. For instance, Lego's sales revenue grew by 25per cent after moving from standard Lego sets to more gendered sets like Lego Friends (for girls).

While brands make more money with gendering what could be neutral toys and products, it is important that we do not let our children's perception be altered by this cloud. In the early years of life, for example, children have an equal urge to create and explore new things, be it, boys or girls. Their imaginations know no confines and that's the bedrock of building their skills to become sound grown individuals. Children should be able to build whatever comes to their head, the way they would like to build it – be it a bed, dollhouse or a truck.

Is it Offbeat for a Boy to Like a Dollhouse?

A lot of boys like dollhouses. They're more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They're more imaginative than dollhouses. However, it is a parent's role to ensure we do not allow our preconceived gender notions and gendered marketing to cloud their free playing thought process. The important aspect is that toys foster creativity and they should be free to play with whatever piques them, instead of us imposing our notions and gender messages already built on the toy/product package.

Almost every brand in today's marketplace has a specified gendered audience, which means they are attentive to the colours they choose for their advertisements and the messaging used for their communication. There are men-centric brands that use black and blue to attract males because it signifies strength. Brands that use a gender marketing database, like [Name][Gender]Pro, will determine what segment of their audience is female or male. Studies show that men prefer colours that are bold and women favour softer tones. That being said, however, brands cannot generalize their outlook. For instance, if a brand sells makeup, it may be disadvantageous to block male audiences because of a large number of male makeup artists and YouTube celebrities in the beauty space are males nowadays. Should a brand sell a range of kitchen appliances, it may harm the sales if the sales strategy was only focused on females because a lot of males are foraying into doing household chores actively. Similarly, with a rise in the number of females holding strategic business positions, a consultancy that sells professional services cannot merely focus on reaching out to males in these positions.

There is a Way out for Brands as Well

Instead of being in the rut of gender marketing, it is time to get to know your audiences the right way and understand how your brand fits genuinely within their ideas and pockets. Adapting to their changing lifestyle patterns and building honest relationships will be a great benefit, instead of relying just on gendered marketing. This is the key to sustaining business with the upcoming generations. Some brands have already begun to embody this. Make-up brand CoverGirl recently appointed James Charles, a 20-year old American internet personality to become the brand's first male ambassador. UK based chain of stores John Lewis has already removed all gender-specific labels for their children's section. Zara too has a gender-neutral section on their website while Barbie has introduced boys in their advertisements to ensure male children who relate to Barbie as something normal and non-stigmatized in society.

Jitendra Karsan

CEO of Safari Kid India

Jitendra Karsan is the CEO of Safari Kid India who comes with two decades of entrepreneurial experience across various fields. Currently, he is responsible for expanding the Safari Kid brand in India, along with aligning their curriculum with Indian systems so that transition from Safari Kid to boards like ICSE, CBSE, IB is easy for both children and parents.

Safari Kid is an international chain of pre-schools present across USA, UK, Canada, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Dubai. After its launch in California in 2007, the brand has become the biggest global pre-school brand with over ten thousand happy students so far.

Jitendra helped Safari Kid launch in India in mid-2015 and the brand has since expanded from one to more than ten centres in three years and plans to grow to twenty more centres in the coming time.

Jitendra has been associated with bringing innovation and growth to the ventures that he has been associated with. He started Computer Canvas, his first venture back in 1998 when he was only twenty-one. Computer Canvas went on to become one of the pioneering companies in developing touch screen based interactive multimedia software. His company then went on to develop multimedia software for the top multinationals from across the world operating from Mumbai and Dubai.

In 2008, he joined hands with Inter Publicity, one of India’s finest advertising agencies for public sector advertising. Apart from handling the company operations, he also launched and took lead of the online and film verticals partnering with Inter Publicity.

After his stint with Inter Publicity, Jitendra joined hands with Safari Kid in 2013 and brought forth the idea of customized interactive learning to pre-schoolers in India, with Safari Kid’s first centre launch in 2015.

Jitendra holds an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management in Mumbai and is a bike enthusiast who takes on-road expeditions across the country.



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