Of marketing, girls, and pink products
It’s that wonderful time of the year, when thoughts to turn to gift-giving, winter activities, looking forward to more daylight hours, and raising another ruckus about marketers who “push pink products on girls.”
As with most issues, it ain’t that simple.
Marketers are interested in selling girls whatever girls want to buy. You may not like it, but right now when girls vote with their or their parents’ wallets, a large percentage of them vote for pink. Marketing’s job is not to change their minds, but to oblige them. If enough girls started voting with their wallets for green instead, you can bet that in no time green products would take over at full price while pink products languished on clearance tables.
There is something of a vicious circle to it. For about a century and for whatever reason, western culture has embraced the pink-for-girls thing. The embrace creates demand; marketers respond with supply; supply contributes to a bandwagon effect; and demand deepens. I’m not trying to persuade you that that’s a good thing. Only that that’s how things work.
Girls who don’t want pink present a marketing opportunity in their own right. But it’s a niche opportunity and a less sure thing for marketers. That’s why it’s harder to find products in other colors marketed to girls and why selection is smaller.
Marketing follows trends more often than it leads them. My not terribly reassuring answer to those who bemoan pink products for girls is that we will see fewer of them only when fewer girls want them.
A pink riding crop?
Oh come on.
One of my clients, a horsemanship products marketer, scoffed when a supplier brought him a pink riding crop. He knew that most of his customers were middle-aged women but was pretty sure they wouldn’t go for it.
He tested the pink crop with a tiny ad buried in the catalog back. To his surprise, it became one of his top-selling items.
Had you seen the ad grow and move to the front of the catalog over time, you might have thought he was pushing pink riding crops on women. On the contrary: Women were pulling pink riding crops from him. When sales eventually slowed, the ad returned to its original size and position.