Baby and child-specific products are a segment to watch, according to Euromonitor International, and the market research provider suggests that shifting gender expectations for children are influencing toys, clothes and toiletries.
The firm’s analyst Gina Westbrook explains that these shifts are proving slow to take hold in personal care, though, where elsewhere they are being adopted more readily.
“Children’s toiletries remain heavily gender-coded even in developed markets, with young children’s products split into blues and pinks, and even products for teens delineated by masculine colours such as steel blue, compared to softer, more feminine colours for girls,” she observes.
“In developing markets, there is a strong trend towards more gender specificity in this category, rather than less. This is seen as a way to segment the market, add value and appeal to ‘pester power’.”
Brands like Sam Farmer in the UK have been pushing the idea of gender neutral personal care for children and teens for several years now, and Unilever recently committed to ‘ending gender stereotyping’ in its advertising and marketing.
Aline Santos, executive vice president of global marketing at Unilever, explained the initiative to Adweek:
“One of the things we've found is that gender has evolved, but we still look at gender in a stereotyped way, which creates a big distance between us and consumers. We felt that it's time for us to correct that and be much closer to the reality of gender and people today,” she explained.
The approach has been a drastic change when it comes to some of the company’s brands, like Axe (Lynx in the UK).
As Santos told Adweek, “The stereotype of manhood that we had been portraying for years isn't relevant anymore. Not only was it not relevant, but it wasn't right.”
The brand, which is popular among teenagers, has this summer released Lynx Unity, its first-ever gender-neutral body spray in the UK.
The Dollar Shave Club, subscription shaving brand owned by Unilever, has started marketing its products at women in the US and the UK, where traditionally it has targeted male consumers.
Whether gender neutral trends are here to stay or will prove limited in their reach and appeal remains to be seen, but for now, brands are certainly keen to explore the area.