A recent surge in gender-targeted products have created marketing headaches for some companies.
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BIC "for her" pens
Bic “For Her” pens, which were mocked by Ellen Degeneres, received a flood of media coverage, and converted Amazon.com’s customer review section into a colloquy on the state of gender discourse.
“My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I’m writing my last name hyphenated with Robert Pattinson’s last name, I really believe he may some day marry me! I’m positively giddy,” reviewer Tracy Hamilton wrote.
Even those who were willing to cut the company some slack had to admit the “for her” message was flawed: One reviewer wrote that the pen was genuinely more comfortable for smaller hands, but her review was still titled “a good pen with bad marketing.”
A creepy back-to-school ad for the pens featured a blond student asking her male classmates to borrow a pen, only to be faced with an unsatisfying array of blue and black pens. The eyeless Bic mascot, who has apparently been hanging out at the school, appears to offer up a pink pen and win a kiss from the girl.
Honda Fit “She’s” model
While it is not the first automobile manufacturer to make a pink car , Honda Motor Co. Ltd. attracted scorn last month with the news it is launching the Honda Fit “She’s” model. The car features pink stitching on the upholstery, pink gold chrome finishes and a pink key. The front windshield has “super UV cut glass” to block out the sun’s crone-inducing rays. Its “plasmacluster air conditioning technology” is advertised as being good for the skin. The model is being sold in Japan only.
Honda Fit She’s in Pink Gold Metallic II
Fujitsu’s “Floral Kiss” laptop
Last month, Fujitsu Ltd. launched the “Floral Kiss” laptop in Japan, with colours such as “elegant white” and “feminine pink,” and a power plug with a little rhinestone nub. A promotional video shows a woman using it in the kitchen, at a cafe, and in her bedroom. She shops for purses online, checks her horoscope, and publishes pictures of her pink, rhinestone-encrusted manicure to social media websites. There is not a single shot of her at work. In Japan, the commentary has not been as negative as coverage elsewhere, said Pernille Rudlin, director of external relations and international business. The company is looking at rolling it out in other Asian markets as well.
Animée beer (discontinued)
Last year, Molson Coors launched a beer for women in the U.K. and Ireland called Animée , including a “rosé” variety in pink. It was the result of a two-year, multimillion-dollar project that kicked off in 2009, called the BitterSweet Partnership, designed “to remove the gender imbalance that exists around beer consumption.” As beer sales declined, the company identified women – which made up just 17 per cent of the industry’s sales – as a possible growth segment to stem the tide.
The product launched with a $3-million ad campaign. After lacklustre sales, the product was pulled in September.
“Attracting female drinkers remains an absolute priority for the beer category,” a Molson-Coors spokesperson said in an email, pointing to the popularity of products such as Coors Light.
Carlsberg's Copenhagen beer
Carlsberg Group has also launched a female-oriented beer, called Copenhagen. Though it is not pink, its bottle is designed for the lady who simply cannot order a drink that clashes with her outfit.
“There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style,” Carlsberg’s international innovation director, Jeanette Elgaard Carlsson, said in a release.
Carlsberg’s Eve (a spritzer aimed at women)
"Lady" credit cards
In South Korea, female-targeted credit cards such as the LG Lady Card Visa and the United Overseas Bank Lady’s Card MasterCard have had success. Female consumers with growing financial independence wanted services targeted at them, and the cards offered extras such as discounts on fitness classes and at department stores. While banks in Western countries have tried this and failed, the LG card had a 24 per cent share of the female market within two years of its launch, said Kate Sayre, a partner at Boston Consulting Group and a co-author of Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market.