Sep 23, 2013

Gender-Targeted Packaging and Women

The product’s packaging is usually the first thing we notice when we purchase something from a store. Whether or not a product grabs our attention from the shelves is dependent on how appealing the packaging is to the consumer. Well-designed packaging might help sway a consumer into buying that particular brand over its competitors. 

A powerful marketing tool, companies use packaging to draw in members of their target demographic. Consumer psychologists have noted that people tend to purchase items that reflect their personality and the image they wish to project. Products purchased are an extension of who we are, which is why marketing still focuses on gender targeting. By altering packaging color, shape, copy, and imagery, brands are able to subtly influence an individual’s decision-making process.  

Why target women?
Many companies will design packaging for gender-neutral products that appeal to women because often, it is the woman who is shopping for the home and family, therefore, the key decision-maker with purchasing power. 

Depending on the product, however, many brands are also looking to expand market share into male consumer demographics. Household items, like body soap or facewash, have long been regarded as “feminine” and thus required significant re-branding and packaging in order to create lines that appealed to men, even if the brand had long standing success with women.

How influential is packaging on women’s decision-making? 
A 2013 London survey of 500 marketing and packaging professionals from around the world reported that women are three-times as likely to be influenced by packaging tactics and promotions than men.

Women in the 20 to 30-year-old age range were most susceptible to packaging gimmicks; however, the gender divide was greatest in teenagers (27% of girls were drawn to targeted packaging vs. 9% of boys).

With women responsible for over 80% of household purchases, packaging that appeals to a woman becomes a very important marketing tool.

Packaging details that appeal to women
Image. Surveys have shown that, contrary to popular belief, images of celebrities are not particularly attractive to women buyers. Young women tend to be drawn by aspirational imagery, therefore, elegant and stylish labels are more likely to get their attention. 

Color. While pink resonates may attract the attention of little girls, this color rates low on packaging color preferences for women. Blues, purples and greens seem to be much more appealing to women when it comes to packaging. 

Shape. Round shapes feel more feminine and artsy, while shapes with sharp corners and angles feel more masculine. Studies based on sales of products that are available in both straight and curved bottles have shown that women find rounded contours more visually-appealing. 

Text. Women are more detail-oriented than men; and copy on packaging explaining what the product offers and its benefits can elevate a brand above its competitors. Large lettering that clearly states benefits is key. Inclusion of simple instructions is also important for a female buyer. 

Marketing to women via packaging involves more than just picking the right color and the right keywords. For the consumer, there is a direct correlation with the packaging and the product quality—and how that reflects on her. As women are likely to purchase for the whole household, product packaging should focus on good design and usability, rather than solely relying on gender-targeting. 

Tara Heath is a freelance writer and marketing professional from Los Angeles. Working with beauty company Fair & Flawless she has seen just how important packaging is and what a difference it can make to consumers.

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