Why Marketers Fear the Female Geek

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  1. N.C. Harrison says:

    Huh… the people I know with the absolute most superhero and other geek merchandise are young women. Is Paul Dini wrong? Are they statistical anomalies? This seems like it could bear further research.

    • Three things explain this:
      First, I would say check the type of merchandise they have. As a female geek, I’ve found that most of the merchandise on the regular market is not branded and does not appeal to me. However, there are lot’s of small websites and craft people on places like Etsy who have items that appeal to women. Also, a lot of women have taken to creating their own fan apparel, pillows, jewelry and other merchandise that they don’t find in the “boys club” of the Con floors.
      Second, you will find that the women who have geek merchandise will have them in a very narrow field. They finally found a particular comic/movie/character that appeals to them, so they buy everything they can of it. Men have more options for merchandise in a broader range, so it isn’t as noticeable as the woman whose whole life revolves around two or three passions.
      Third, women tend to wear their merchandise. It’s a more public geek-love in clothes, purses, pins, jewelry and hair accessories. And those clothing/accessories are usually more provocative and colorful than the simple t-shirts that men wear. This gives the illusion of women having lot’s of merchandise. In reality, men have far more geek merchandise. It just gets stacked up on magazine racks or book cases or displayed on the walls or plugged into their computers or gaming consoles. Far more of the movies, comics and tech (the more expensive products) is focused on/for men.

  2. John Ordover says:

    Wouldn’t you start your ad program for the candy bar by determining what demographic eats the most candy bars in the first place?

  3. This is the best and most thought through article that I have read on this issue. However I disagree with you, I think that pink lego is the spade that can dig geek toys out of their sexist hole.

    A few years ago I ended up talking to high up marketing people at a multinational consumer goods company, and we were talking about how to sell make-up to men.

    We know that make-up makes men appear more sexually attractive, and can hide blemishes, and all that crap. If we can get men buying make-up then we can double our sales. The problem is that make-up is marketed at women.

    Therefore you create an alternate brand, maybe centred around manly activities, like shaving. Gradually get men OK with the concept of smearing stuff on their face every day. Then start to expand from manly alcohol based shaving balms, through softer gentle shaving moisturisers, through moisturisers that might do more than just moisturise, maybe conceal some acne…..

    Then in 20 years time, men are wearing make-up, and we sell twice as much product.


    • I thoroughly disagree with you about the pink legos. When I was a kid, my sister and I BOTH played with Lego. They were marketed for KIDS, not for boys. Everyone played with Lego. It was a gender-neutral toy, and every kid I knew – boys and girls alike – loved Lego. It was only later that the brand started aiming more exclusively towards boys… and after that, the pink “girl Lego” sets emerged in contrast.

  4. Very interesting and thought provoking article.

    I’m not too sure about the “encourage hostile behaviour from male in-group” point in the flow box. I don’t think there was too much evidence in support of that in the article (although maybe I missed it/you have some/more). Indeed, I – and many people I know – would love my female friends to be more interested and share in some of the geeky stuff I adore. But, maybe that’s me drawing on my personal experience/feelings. In light of this, I’m also not sure some of the language is helpful e.g. “pampered male demographic [....] reacting with hostility “. I see this as making a bit of a broad-stroke generalisation, something the article criticises marketers for doing.

    Those things said, it’s very interesting to see the self perpetuating way that marketing works in this area. It is hardly well grounded. You would hope that the link between geekiness and science would lead the marketers to be more scientific in their approach, re-evaluate their flawed logic, assess the reasons why women do not react as positively in the first instance and see a potentially untapped audience. I definitely know a lot of women who love geeky things!


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