No boys allowed: What’s so girly about yoghurt?


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Paint it black: Do coloured pots only appeal to women?
Paint it black: Do coloured pots only appeal to women?

Related tags Marketing

There’s a marketing experiment going on in the yoghurt aisle. Two yoghurt brands recently have positioned themselves as ‘yoghurt for men’. Is ordinary yoghurt really so girly?

Last week, Danone said it would introduce a yoghurt brand for men in Bulgaria, while another company, Powerful Yogurt​, is also targeting men, first in the US and now in the UK. Both brands have used black packaging and thicker texture for their male-focused yoghurts. So is yoghurt such a girly food that the only way to get men to eat it is to seal it in a (strong, manly) black carton and associate it with strong, manly activities, like bodybuilding?

Of course, it goes both ways. Danone’s Activia brand was widely marketed with a women-only focus group, implying that women tend to be particularly concerned about the (um) ‘end result’ of eating its yoghurt. I can’t think of anything less appealing.

And Danone has also struggled with female-focused yoghurts in the past, pulling its Essensis ‘beauty yoghurt’​ just two years after its launch.

All of this leads me to ask: Is a binary gendered marketing campaign really the best tactic?

After all, there is more information available than ever before about what consumers like and don’t like, people are actively discussing brands on social media, and associating themselves with ideals and ideas.

What comes out time and again in market research is that consumers care about taste more than anything else. Why not allow both male and female consumers to decide whether they’d like their yoghurt creamier, thicker, higher in protein, or in a larger pot?

That said, men in general do tend to eat less yoghurt than women. In the United States, the difference is marked – 65% of women are regular yoghurt consumers, compared to 41% of men – but there are differences in European countries too. In France, women tend to eat more yoghurt and milk than men, while the opposite is true for cheese.

As a food marketer, I understand that this could look like a marketing opportunity – but it could also simply reflect a wider dietary divide. Generally, women also tend to eat more vegetables, but no one’s putting veggies in black packages in the freezer aisle.

I wager that very few of those non-yoghurt-eating gents are going to change their diets because an advert says ‘you’re a man; this is for you’. These products will appeal to a certain niche – the fitness-conscious, in the case of Powerful Yogurt – but I predict that they will fall short when it comes to mainstream appeal, precisely because of their ‘manly man’-focused marketing.

I do think that creative marketing could help shift dietary habits – but there’s far more driving consumption than gender-divided cultural stereotypes.

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