Hey Ladies, Want Some Jerky? Unusual Marketing Efforts Aimed Just at Women

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Gender-based marketing sometimes focuses on men: A “manly” diet soda hit the market not long ago, for instance, and Weight Watchers has made concerted efforts to appeal to guys and let them know that the company’s product is for them, too. More often, though, it seems like women are the target market, and the results can sometimes raise eyebrows.

Some recent examples of “just for her” products, marketing, and advertising:

Jerky
Dudes have been encouraged to aggressively “Snap into a Slim Jim” for years. Recently, though, a softer side to jerky is being presented. Bombshell Jerky, billed as “The Best Beef Jerky for Women” and the “perfect snack for the gal on the go,” launched last year with flavors such as Harvest Cherry Maple Turkey and the spicy Firecracker Links. “I like my beef jerky the way I like my men…hot,” says the Bombshell spokesmodel. “That’s why I go for the flavors that knock your socks off.”

According to a Wall Street Journal story, another brand, Perky Jerky, whose snacks are all natural and contain guarana, a berry from the Amazon, has a customer base that skews 60% female.

(MORE: 9 Products Enjoying a Curious Surge in Sales)

Breastaurants
Over the next few years, Hooters, the original “breastaurant,” is embarking on a broad brand revitalization. Central to the effort is the desire to attract women into what’s widely considered the restaurant equivalent of a man cave, heavy on chicken wings, burgers, and, of course, attractive women in very tight shirts and shorts. To draw in the ladies, Hooters is redecorating restaurants and revamping menus to include more salads.

Steakhouses
“Many [women] shy away from clubby steakhouses, especially dining rooms dominated by men,” notes the New York Times. And that’s why the Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses chain is actively trying to reach out to women by adding new cocktails (pomegranate martinis, strawberry basil gimlets) and smaller sharing plates to menus, as well as advertising in women’s magazines and hosting special events about topics like women and entrepreneurship.

Beer
Polls show that women overwhelmingly prefer wine to beer. Data like that makes marketers wonder whether women just haven’t found the right beer for them yet. Hence the introduction of “lager for ladies” in recent years such as Chick Beer and Animée, a Molson Coors brew aimed specifically at women with flavors such as Zesty Lemon and Crisp Rosé.

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Motorcycles
Female motorcycle ownership has increased 45% in recent years, at least partially due to lighter, female-friendly models such as California Scooter’s Baby Doll, a pink-and-white bike with a lower seat height.

Sports Merchandise
The NFL maintains that 45% of its fans are women, and the way that football-related merchandise is being marketed to women indicates they may account for an even larger percentage of team gear and apparel sales. The NFL Shop has a special line of clothing and jewelry from Alyssa Milano (St. Louis Rams earrings, anybody?), and the Baltimore Sun reports that women’s fan sites such as B’more Chix have become the place to go to find everything from cowboy boots in purple (matching the Ravens’ team color) to recipes for a Raven-themed purple layer cake.

Pens
With a “sleek design” and prerequisite girly pastel colors, Bic brought the world a Cristal “For Her” line of pens last summer. Consumers reacted to the new product with hundreds of mock reviews, mostly from women celebrating the arrival of just the perfect writing tool for jotting down recipes — “the only thing a lady should be writing ever.”

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Chocolate
Chocolate is already favored by women—plenty of men too. But Cadbury (and Kraft, its owner) has decided that women need a chocolate bar created just for them. The result is Crispello, which women are supposed to love for three reasons: The crispy wafer offers “a lighter way to eat chocolate,” each bar consists of three separate portions in resealable packaging so the (female) consumer doesn’t feel required to eat it all at once, and all three portions come to a total of just 165 calories. Read between the lines and you may see that this is the candy bar for (female) consumers who are concerned about weight and can’t control themselves.

“It’s offensive,” B.L. Ochman, a social media consultant, told Businessweek. “Products aimed at women always seem to treat women more like children than thinking adults.”

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

14 comments
Emma Murdoch
Emma Murdoch

I am offended. For one thing, me and all of my lady friends are beer drinkers. Not all women hate beer. Women aren't babies, or objects to be fawned over. Stop advertising to us like we are. 

sammy99999
sammy99999

"Hey ladies, want some jerky?" - that sounds nasty.

nomdevertu
nomdevertu

Slightly offended that I'm offered "pastely" pens (my work is less serious or needs to be girl-ified?) and do not need a chocolate just for me.  I can choose my tastes just fine without special wrapping.  Will never want jerky.  I just won't.  But I wish the companies much success in their ventures.  I also find the comments on this thread to be caveman'esque.  Thanks for the amusement, fellas.

BjammindD
BjammindD

Marketing studies for the passt 50 years say otherwise. I agree it has the feel of blatant sexism but marketing "for girls" or "for boys" tends to be very effective, especially for products that are over-represented in one demographic over another.

And you know, I'm looking out my office at two of my co-workers desks, one female and one male. And like out of a book, the women (who is very professional and competent at her job) is using a pink somewhat 'girlish' pen and the man (who is equally professional and competent) is using a larger, black and silver pen.

I'm not suggesting that I've just conducted the be-all and end-all gender bias study but anecdotally I find that gender stereotypes tend to more true than people like to admit and I think people need to recognize that its not somehow a bad thing. I also find, anecdotally (although I admit to a level of bias) that men tend to embrace their inner "caveman" much more readily than women embrace "girlish" elements and tend to get their back up in much the fashion that @nomdevertu:disqus has.

fognon
fognon

Anyone else tired of things being called "offensive" when they aren't? It's the most overused phrase since Obama took office.. Absolutely everything is offensive.

A candy bar is not offensive.

Granny Bird
Granny Bird

 I'm curious now -- are you a woman? If not, I'm not surprised. If you are, I'm a little surprised that some of this doesn't offend you. It certainly offends me.

pc1397
pc1397

Since Obama took office? Wow.

BjammindD
BjammindD

I am offended by your general lack of offense.

PrettySmart1
PrettySmart1

Judging by this, Mad Men could be about today's advertising executives...