How to engage male consumers, without alienating females

How to engage male consumers, without alienating females

Wave has previously reported on the ways in which unisex brands, such as Mini, Budweiser and Dr Pepper, have geared certain campaigns and products towards just male consumers. We look at the benefits and pitfalls of different marketing approaches that aim to appeal to one demographic within a brand’s overall customer base.

Wave recently reported on the consumer backlash experienced by Dr Pepper, following its ‘Dr Pepper Ten’ diet drink campaign, which drew on gender stereotypes in its advertising, featured the tagline “It’s not for women” and only allowed men to access its facebook page. Budweiser’s ‘Grow One’ campaign also targeted males, albeit in a less aggressive fashion, by encouraging men to stop shaving and grow a beard for charity. Mini is another unisex brand that directed its marketing towards males, for the launch of the Mini Countryman, through collaborating with brands typically favoured by males.

Wavemetrix monitoring shows that all of these campaigns successfully prompted online discussion amongst male consumers. However, Dr Pepper and Budweiser generated criticism amongst many of their female fans, by openly excluding them from their marketing activity. By contrast, the inclusive nature of the Mini Countryman campaign managed to attract men, without offending or excluding its female customer. Brands such as Old Spice and Coors Light have also demonstrated how to maintain female engagement and positivity, during a male-oriented campaign, by playfully drawing on gender stereotypes in a light-hearted and inclusive way.

Females are much more negative around campaigns that overtly exclude them:


  • 70% of female discussion around the “Dr Pepper Ten” campaign is negative: Females describe the campaign as “sexist”, “backwards” and “ridiculous”. One woman states that “great marketing campaigns don’t immediately alienate and insult 50% of the market”
  • Half of female discussion around the Budweiser “Grow One “campaign is negative: Female engagement is low and, while a few respond by saying they will “stop shaving” too, others are driven to criticize the brand, products and marketing
  • Only 4% of female discussion around the Mini Countryman is negative: Although the campaign is designed to appeal to men, it executes this in a subtle and inclusive way, generating a huge amount of praise for the brand, product and marketing campaign from males and females alike


All three brands are successfully engaging men, but Dr. Pepper also incites heavy criticism from its female customer base:


  • The majority of consumer discussion comes from men: All three campaigns are successfully engaging their target market, with a large proportion of online discussion coming from men
  • Dr Pepper generates significantly more female discussion than the Budweiser and Mini campaigns: 30% of discussion around the Dr Pepper Ten campaign comes from women, the majority of whom criticize Dr Pepper’s marketing approach

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