Marketing To Men

Dr. Bob DeutschApril 19, 20103 min

Men are, well, men. They live in the ‘now.’ They are concrete thinkers that like to consummate, finish. A male axiom is “complete what you set out to do.” Men are interested in power and in looking good, even more than being good. In short, that’s the nature of beauty for the beast.

You cannot market to men the same way you market to women. It’s not a simple transformation of changing colors, fonts or packaging. Men and women are different biologically, psychologically and socially.

Of course, when it comes to attractiveness, both sexes want to garner attention, but each for different reasons. For men, looking good is looking strong, confident, authoritative, adventurous – a standout. Men concentrate on looks to the extent that it signals something about what they do, have done or can do. Regardless of how much a woman wants to attract in the contest of beauty and brains, their focus is on hope and details, and they concentrate on how appearance reflects their inner being.

Consider four fundamental gender differences and their impact on marketing:


Men tend to hone in, more quickly than women, on what they’re looking for. Men are not browsers. A male motto, “Get what I want and move on.” Men shop for what they need “now.” Women can shop for something and put it away for “later.” (An interesting reflection of how men and women relate differently to time is found in how differently they follow instructions for antibiotics prescribed by their doctors: Very often, men will stop taking antibiotics as soon as they feel better, even though the regime’s effectiveness calls for a full 14-day intake. Women, much more frequently than men, complete the recommended regime.) Women want to get the underlying dynamics of things while men attend to the mundane mechanics of life.


Men are concrete and tend to tightly focus their awareness; their notion of cause and effect is linear and men are visually-oriented because of this concrete literality.” What you see is what is, literally). Seeking clarity, men create absolute distinctions: black-white, yes-no.

Women often think, “it depends.” You never hear a man voice this sentiment. These different ways of defining what leads to what also impacts what goes with what. Men dislike ensembles. Men tend to buy individual items. In contrast, many women like to think about how they can put together “outfits” and are creative in selecting, say, a variation on a scarf or a belt that will change the nature of one basic dressing.


Men structure and relate to space as compartmented and sequential. To men, space is not relational, as it is for women. For example, when a woman gives directions, she will say, “Go three blocks south (as she points or orients in the direction indicated), then bear right, and when you see the clock tower, watch for your street on the right.” Men say, “Go three blocks to Pullman Street and turn left on to Main, the turn left to Brighton Street.”

These kinds of underlying, fundamental gender differences can have critical implications not only for what makes an item compelling, but also for store design and product layout. For example, many women like the challenge, the somewhat disorganized variety and the catch-as-catch-can nature of places such as TJ Max or Marshalls. Men, even men who shop in such places because of price, are not there out of joy or desire.

Other People

For the male it’s every man for himself. Men prize individuality and self-reliance. They conceive of other people as “my competition.” Daily life for them is a contest with winners and losers. This is in contrast to women, who often view other people as a source of strength. Note, too, that men never shop together. Women often shop with a friend and make a “day” of it. A man focuses on himself – the “me” while a woman is focused on the “we.”

Men are interested in power. Women are more interested in security. Men relate to “things” themselves. Women relate to the relationship between things.In today’s world, men might, for example, be paying more attention to grooming aids than they did years ago. But men are still grooming to go up the hierarchy, to be Number One, and be recognized as Number One. Modern man is still primal man, regardless of how much hair a man has to groom.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by Dr. Bob Deutsch, Brain Sells

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  • Andrew Young

    April 20, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Really interesting post – thank you. Are there any sources you can recommend to find out more on this subject?

  • Joy Levin

    April 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

    These are great examples of gender differences, however they are primarily focused on the consumer market. I have seen examples of these differences in B2B marketing as well. The exploration and understanding of gender differences is necessary in marketing overall, regardless of the category or space.

  • Beth Robinson

    April 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    And always remember that these are generalizations. Stating them as absolutes is good for writing an article but the gender norms of YOUR TARGET MARKET may be different.

    I personally know exceptions to most of these generalizations, while agreeing that the trend, for the most part, holds.

  • Regine Wilber

    April 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I am glad you published Beth’s comment about generalisation. I agree that there are ‘rules’ that will broadly apply but within successful branding and marketing strategies lies the ability to eak out the individuality of both sexes without excluding all those who differ in their views and behaviours. Great discussion article!

  • David O.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I think this article makes a lot of generalizations and some things written are just flat out wrong and contradictory.

    Men could not be Doctors or Scientists if they were not concerned with the ” underlying dynamics of things ” Both men and women are interested in power and security, but how they attain it may be different. One could argue that men are more concerned with underlying dynamics than women. The author of this article, about the underlying dynamics of human behavior, is a man, that’s contradiction.

    “Men concentrate on looks to the extent that it signals something about what they do”

    Same thing for women, many times a woman’s “job” is to look pretty. In the entertainment world and business, there are lot more women models than men, many women dress to look pretty not to reflect their “inner being.”

  • Dr. Bob Deutsch

    April 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

    As author of this article on men, I agree with comments that these points I made are trends and population tendencies. There is always variation by individuals. Gender differences, though, are real and start early. I recently was discussing this topic with a teacher who teaches art to 3rd and 4th graders. She asked her students, What is the most outrageous invention you would like to create? This teacher told me that in her mind a gender-dependent theme emerged. Boys said things like, “I want to invent a big robot that breathes fire.” Girls, in contrast, responded with comments like, “I want to invent an ice cream maker that could make an ice cream that had every flavor in it. That way, everyone would be happy.”

  • David O.

    April 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    ” Gender differences, though, are real and start early. ”
    I agree there are some gender differences. Women are generally more nurturing then men, guys tend to love the thrill of action more, this is apparent at an early age.

    But there are a lot of similarities among gender. The example of a disorganized variety may work for women shopping for clothes, but that won’t work for a grocery store. Both men and women want to find vegetables in the vegetable aisle not meat.

    When marketing to men or women, the best thing is to give them what they want and do it better than the competition.

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