Marketers, as well as anyone who’s been to a Toys R Us in the last 10 years, are well aware that a common way to goose sales is to split a market by gender. If body wash is a product traditionally purchased by women, design a body wash exclusively for men. Persuade both genders that they’re better off with their own gender-specific stuff, and you could wind up with double the sales—households with two types of bath soap, two types of diet soda, two sets of nearly identical kids’ building blocks, with one set in pink.
Part of the reason this approach works so well is that men, apparently, don’t want to buy stuff strongly associated with women. This resistance has led to ads like one launched recently for Dr Pepper Ten, a diet soda that attempts to address the fact that male consumers think “diet’s kinda girly,” as one of Dr Pepper’s execs put it to me. The new ad showcases a mountain man who chews bark and canoes with a bear; the tagline is “the manliest low-calorie soda in the history of mankind.”