CPG Marketers Need to Pay More Attention to Men

Feb 11, 2009

By George Anderson

An opinion
piece on AdAge.com by Abigail Posner, senior
VP-strategy director at Publicis, maintains that
consumer packaged goods companies are missing an opportunity by not directing
more messages to men.

Today, according
to Ms. Posner, men are playing a larger role in caring for their children
and homes. While they are not the primary shopper or influencer in most
households, males’ increasing involvement offers an opportunity for marketers
to expand their audience for products developed for families.

have demonstrated that they can expand a product’s audience by speaking
to numerous consumers within the family group. Ms. Posner pointed to the
success of Nintendo’s Wii gaming system that changed from
the traditional approach of targeting gamers and teens to reach out to

Ms. Posner
said media and marketing messages can affect cultural change.

"There’s no reason
we can’t appeal to an otherwise unattainable consumer group and maybe,
just maybe, affect that group not just as consumers but as people," wrote
Ms. Posner.
"Marketing to men and portraying them as caretakers of and shoppers
for the family can attract additional consumers to a brand while encouraging
men to become greater participants in the maintenance of their families and
homes. And the more men are accepted and accept themselves in that role,
the more they’ll be interested in brands that solve the needs or enhance
the enjoyment of home and family care."

Discussion Questions:
Are CPG marketers missing an opportunity to build business by speaking
to men who are household caretakers? Can marketers affect changes in
behavior as suggested in Abigail Posner’s AdAge.com article?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "CPG Marketers Need to Pay More Attention to Men"

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Cathy Hotka
14 years 1 month ago

Women have long chafed at being portrayed as the ironers, the cleaners, the cooks. If you stay home one day and watch the ads that run during soap operas, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s still 1965. Unisex ads for home care products would be welcomed by everyone.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 1 month ago

Men have already taken the leap and created comfortable worlds for themselves in this new paradigm, and it’s up to marketers to catch up in realistic, well-thought-out ways. Any marketer who believes they are starting at square one and are assuming a leadership role in this effort is kidding themselves and their campaigns will be off-putting to the target described above. This real-world, behavioral ship has sailed.

Stay-at-home men don’t need to be led or given permission. They just do it. Go gently with your advertising, if you go at all. Guys are smart enough to pick out the wheat from the chaff. They’ll take what they want from your messages and move on. They just don’t care if someone like them appears in a commercial. And frankly, if you show a man ironing, you’ve lost them.

Zel Bianco
14 years 1 month ago

This may be more important than ever due to the sheer number of men who are now out of work compared to the number of woman. This of course is at the risk of further alienating some men who feel completely out of place in this new, sometimes, unwanted role. The messages will need to be crafted very carefully and handled delicately to not turn men off. Perhaps, the daytime dramas can start to tailor some of their scripts to men as homemaker so that the commercial messages have just the right tone to make them feel more comfortable.

My guess is that when men do the food shopping, they will still need to be on their cell phones with their wives to make sure they taking the right products off the shelves.

Len Lewis
Len Lewis
14 years 1 month ago

I agree with Posner that men are an important part of the marketing mix. I also agree with Zel that that this is an alien environment for many of them.

The trick is to make it less of an alien environment by helping them through the process and give them–and all people really–a sense of accomplishment by being “caretakers.” This same strategy would work well for younger people who are also strangers to the supermarket, cooking and other household functions.

Kevin Graff
14 years 1 month ago

In looking at our extended circle of friends and contacts, it strikes me that it’s the men in many of these families who do most of the cooking. That’s not to say that they’ve taken on the full scope of family care duties. However, ignoring men in the marketing of numerous consumer/food items would be short sighted.

Look at the popularity of the shows on the Food Network and HGTV. The hosts of many of these shows are men, and no doubt a huge slice of the audience is male also.

Whether a heightened focus on marketing these products to men will result in a cultural shift or not is too big of a question at this time. It’s taken decades to get men to cook, so it might be decades more before they take on vacuuming, laundry, dusting, ironing….

Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned
14 years 1 month ago

When you consider the growth of men’s participation in household management (even if that’s mainly cooking) and parenting today, what Posner writes is worth noting. Figuring out how to raise the point, have open discussions among men/women, and then, as a marketer, somehow let men know they are “allowed” to do these formerly considered “female” tasks is indeed a BIG challenge. Like any such cultural shift, as previous commenters mention, it may take decades to really sink in.

However, as someone who studies marketing to women’s next layer–men who buy like women (and that is not to say they are girly!)–I definitely see a trend. Subtle and a few layers underground, but there is a fault line forming. If men, like those commenting here, are open to discussing it, lots can be learned about how their lives have changed (or may soon) in ways that brands/retailers can better serve.

Phillip T. Straniero
Phillip T. Straniero
14 years 1 month ago

There are many men who either are the heads of single parent households, have shared custody/weekend custody of their children, or share the shopping duties with the female in the household. It would seem to me that these men shop for commodities outside of beer, chips, and pizza and should be advertising/marketing targets for numerous categories in the store.

A great example of this was a very creative television ad campaign called “Man Shopping Challenge” run by Trading Company Stores in Bonners Ferry, WA. This campaign was the “Best of Show” winner of the National Grocers Association’s 2009 Creative Choice Awards featured at the NGA Annual Convention last week in Las Vegas.

Hopefully this campaign will be posted somewhere on the web so RetailWire readers can view it.

Ben Ball
14 years 1 month ago
Attempting to tailor ads for cooking and housekeeping to men is akin to tailoring the same ads to seniors or African-Americans. Cooking and cleaning are roles. If a consumer finds him or her self in that role, they pay attention to the messages for the relevant products. Should marketers mix up the models in their commercials and other communications so men see themselves occasionally? Sure. Why not? Just as good communication will feature age groups and ethnic groups when they are occasionally part of the audience for a given role. But tailoring women’s marketing vehicles to men will miss the mark. Don’t adjust the target of soap operas–put your ads on ESPN. Men at home are still men. One thing that is important is to recognize the subtleties in describing a role to a new target, however. For example, men have been preparing food for centuries–but they don’t “cook.” Women “cook.” Men are “chefs.” Barbecue chef. Camp chef. Bakery chef. Doesn’t matter if we are making scrambled eggs and toast for dinner–it’s still “Chef,” thank… Read more »
Lee Peterson
14 years 1 month ago

Just as “painting things pink” is not the key to marketing to women, “jockular beer humor” is not the only key to marketing to men anymore. The issue is far more complex than any one single answer, because certainly, just like women, the segmentation of the male consumer is vast.

Stay at home Dad, single guy, empty nester, Gen Y gamer, world traveler, executive…on and on. Part of the reason females (low hanging marketing fruit, btw) make all the financial decisions is because their male counterparts are disinterested and bored with how they’re marketed to. It’s as if they keep asking, “why?” with no response.

We have such a long way to go in terms of re-engaging the male consumer.


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