It was announced last week that Kleenex was to stop branding its larger tissue sizes as “Mansize”. This is after complaints that the branding was sexist. This may sadly be a sign of things to come. Where good legitimate marketing practice becomes threatened by the worst of humanity – ill-informed do-gooders.
The fundamentals of marketing strategy is to position the brand and its products in such a way as to successfully reach its target market segments. In fact, this may be why Kleenex has been so successful. It has always positioned its different product lines in a way that appealed to their respective target customers. Kleenex Mansize has existed for 60 years!
Assume that Kleenex has indeed identified that its male customers have a distinct product preference. Assume next that it develops a product to appeal to the male market. Any marketing consultant (and indeed any layperson) would advise that it brands the product that would call out to its target market.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Should Nivea Men be dropped too? After all, some women may very well prefer its formulation. And how dare Zara promote gender stereotypes with its Male and Female lines? And isn’t it about time Victoria’s Secret put male mannequins in their shop windows? After all, (I hear) some men enjoy wearing lingerie.
THAT, my friend, is the absurd conclusion of this pathetic logic. But if common sense is too hard to ask for? Then we marketers have no choice to tread carefully around the minefield of impassioned but silly public opinion.