New research by easyFairs, organizers of Packaging Innovations London 2014, suggests women are over four times as likely to be susceptible to personalized packaging, than men.

A study of 500 marketing and packaging professionals found that personalized or gender specific packaging had a stronger effect on women than men.

Of those polled, 43 percent said women favored ‘branded personality’ packaging. The divide is just as strong between children; 37 percent of marketers said that girls are more likely to be attracted to gender specific packaging in contrast to just 10 percent suggesting boys.

Gender specific packaging, such as “Yorkie – it’s not for girls”, “McCoy’s – Man Crisps” and “Lambrini girls just wanna have fun”, has reportedly increased brand awareness and the product bottom line. Reflecting this, 42 percent of those questioned thought gender cues in packaging sells more product.

Cosmetics/toiletries (86 percent) and fashion (67 percent) were thought to be the sectors which relied most on gender specific packaging, followed by toys (49 percent) and alcohol (37 percent). Some 40 percent claimed stereotyped packaging is just responding to what boys and girls prefer.

It was believed by 29 percent that a company would lose sales if it adopted gender neutral packaging, with 28 percent thinking gender specific packaging is a ‘smart marketing move’. Over 39 percent have considered integrating pack gender bias to improve sales.

However, 33 percent of the packaging professionals said they expect to see an increase in gender-neutral packaging. Possibly an impact from campaigns such as ‘Let Toys Be Toys’, a group which has been canvassing the UK’s largest retailers to remove gender labels on its packaging.

‘Brand personalities are a set of values with which consumers identify’, commented Alison Church, event director, easyFairs. ‘Many brands will work hard to attract a specific gender group, as it’s a tempting way to differentiate it from other similar brands in a sometimes crowded homogeneous product class.

‘The problem comes when the packaging plays on stereotypes; we all know that towards the end of last year, after customer complaints, Marks & Spencer agreed to make its toy packaging gender neutral by spring 2014, and they weren’t the only retail chain to do this. Most brand managers work hard to ensure their packaging catches the shopper’s eye whoever the target market is, irrespective of their gender. That’s why at the show we expect to see every kind of new concept – no matter what niche or group someone is targeting, there will be a packaging ideas to inspire them.’

The research was conducted on behalf of Packaging Innovations London, co-located with Luxury Packaging, which takes place at the Business Design Centre September 30 and October 1, 2014.

Written for: Labels and Labeling Magazine
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