According to a blog from Choozle, by Megan Sullivan-Jenks reporting on a SurveyMonkey study, gender stereotyping in advertisements is a common tactic used for many brands and products to portray their target audience. Whether it’s the shampoo that only features women with beautiful hair in their commercials, or camping gear that only shows a male on the packaging, brands are consciously choosing to highlight and promote to one gender over the other.
The study, “Gender Stereotype Survey,” was designed to better understand how the average consumers perceive gender targeting, and gender stereotypes, in advertisements; how attuned they are to the role gender plays in ads, how they’re affected, what aspect of an ad they think promotes these stereotypes, and whether these consumers believed that the ad industry should be held responsible for reinforcing gender stereotypes.
The study surveyed 250 men and 250 women, representing a range of ages 18 and older, located in every region of the U.S., and have household incomes ranging from $0 to $200,000+. To begin the survey, respondents were provided a brief definition of the term “gender stereotype” with traditional examples for both men and women.
The study tackled a variety of different subjects, says the report, including brand breaking stereotypes, creative design and the copy of ads pushing stereotypes, purchasing behaviors, and the ad industry’s role in breaking stereotypes.
Brand Breaking Stereotypes
While there is an audience that will react positively to brands actively breaking gender stereotypes, there is an even bigger segment of consumers who will not be affected, says the report.
Ad Copy vs. Creative
The study asked “Does something as simple as the font and color treatment of an advertisement impact consumers’ perception of stereotyping.” Yes, was the response, but not in the way one might expect, says the report.
When provided more information, (the font and colors of the men’s ad tagline,) respondents had mixed opinions on whom the ad was targeting:
Colors, fonts, images, words, and phrasing create a connection between the creative aspects themselves and the reinforcement of gender stereotypes, says the report.
Opinions are mixed on whether gender stereotypes affect purchasing behavior. There is a notable segment of consumers that will sometimes buy men’s products and sometimes buy women’s products, regardless of their gender, says the report:
Ad Industry’s Role
Respondent’s opinions are mixed on whether the ad industry should be held responsible for breaking gender stereotypes: more than a third of respondents don’t feel either way strongly, says the report.
The survey revealed many things regarding the use of gender stereotypes in digital advertising. A mixed bag certainly, but there are proclivities. Some generic conclusions and observations:
Many products could be used for either male or female, concludes the report. If an advertiser is producing ads for a product that could be utilized for either gender, they should consider a message and creative style that appeals to both without portraying that it really should be just for females or just for males.
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