Gender Matters in Advertising

By Lori Turner-Wilson

While the gender divide among men and women continues to narrow in regard to workforce equality, recent research from Nielsen NeuroFocus, reported by TechVibes, uncovers significant differences in the way men and women think and make purchase decisions. In fact, the mere manner in which the two genders process information is fundamentally different.

The female brain is wired for big-picture thinking as well as multi-tasking. Odds are women are engaged in at least one other activity while viewing your ad, so be sure your key message is clear and repeat it where possible. Women’s brains are hard-wired for gut reasoning and empathy, so ensure your ad connects with them on that emotional level.

Compared to women, however, men’s reasoning process leans less toward intuition. Provide logical solutions to their problems and you’re likely to capture their attention. Men are goal-oriented shoppers and therefore willing to pay a higher price than women to get that purchase checked off their list.

Men are also more competitive by nature, so ads demonstrating how your product or service can provide an advantage over personal or professional “competitors” may hit home. That’s the approach taken by Axe body spray in its series of commercials featuring Axe-wearing men gaining the upper hand in attracting women.

Consider the practical application of these gender differences. If you represent a nonprofit, for example, you know that women influence the majority of charitable giving. Keeping this in mind, you might lean toward emotion-based imagery versus facts and figures to tell your story.

While an overt call-to-action such as “book now, offer expires soon,” may motivate men, it can be a turn-off for women. Women seek social harmony, and so the pressure-based hard sell is less effective.

Because men want to limit their shopping time, they may pop into a store for just an item or two. Browsing and price comparisons rarely occur. They are, however, more likely to make impulse purchase decisions at the point-of-sale if it’s something they could use, as it may avoid a future shopping excursion. So retailers, be sure to build your point-of-sale displays with men in mind.

Just as with any form of target marketing, there are always exceptions to the rule. Naturally, all men and all women aren’t preconditioned for the exact same type of decision-making. However, applying these gender-marketing principles to your advertising and marketing campaigns will ensure your messaging better resonates with the lion’s share of your market.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (