“The Ideal Man” & ticking off Gen X male consumers
“The Player”, “The Beer Drinker” and “The Buddy”. These are tried and true “ideal male images” used by advertisers to attract men to their products and brand. Apparently, it’s not working so well anymore. Researchers say advertisers may need to incorporate “The Dad”, “The Husband” and “The Handyman” or even, “The Mentor” to avoid alienating the Gen X male consumer.
According to the researchers, “it used to be” that the initial three stereotypes appealed to men. Our guess is that these stereotypes appealed to Boomer men. Apparently, Gen X is a whole different group. Since men are now the primary shopper in a third of US households, it’s imperative that advertisers find the “new” stereotypes that will appeal.
Using the old stereotypes is apparently backfiring and men are reacting negatively to the stereotype, the ad, and the brand. Essentially, the message to the advertiser is “misrepresent me in your ads and you are as good as dead to me”. The researchers see what they call an extreme “market fragmentation” (in terms of male response to the ads) as an opportunity for companies to consider being responsible in media messages targeting men and boys. One of the researchers offers the following statement:
“People build up certain offensive and defensive strategies when they look at ads,” Otnes said. “If they feel threatened by an ad, it may actually bleed over into the way they feel about that product. So if a man is turned off by how males are portrayed in an advertisement, he’ll say, ‘I don’t want to be that guy’ ” – and that’s the end of his relationship with that brand. So teasing out what’s offensive from a sociological or cultural perspective is important.”
This research, while likely startling and disturbing for advertisers, is consistent with our research and writing on generational issues. We need to pay attention to the audience. What appealed to Boomer jurors, often misses the boat with the younger Gen X and Millennial jurors. As we frequently ask ourselves, and challenge clients to consider, “Who is your audience?” It is critical to keep up with the changes to the population of the country–which is reflected in the changing population of the venire. Do not unintentionally alienate or insult your jurors!
Linda Tuncay Zayer, & Stacy Neier (2011). An exploration of men’s brand relationships. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal. DOI: 10.1108/13522751111099337
“Gender, Culture, and Consumer Behavior,” co-edited by Otnes and Zayer. www.routledge.com/books/details/9781848729469/