The Science of Marketing to Different Genders

An analysis of how men and women react to various marketing tactics.

A woman in a bikini sloppily eating a cheeseburger. An animal shelter packed with sad and scared dogs. A beautiful celebrity promoting shampoo. An insurance company showing statistic after statistic about the dangers of driving.

All of these recognizable marketing messages have one thing in common: They are effectively selling to different genders.

Neurology, sociology, and other sciences studying the differences between men and women have found that the genders react differently to varied marketing tactics. In how they receive information, analyze messages, communicate experiences, and make decisions, men and women are different, which means marketers must be aware of how they're marketing to their audiences.

Though business leaders may assume they understand their audience, assumptions about gender are often misguided and can have negative impacts on business success. Regardless of whether your main consumer is male, female, or somewhere in between, your business will benefit by understanding some of the emerging research on gendered marketing.

Men Follow Authority

Men tend to be motivated by logic and credibility. According to a 2007 study on male and female shopping habits, male shoppers look for specific and demonstrable benefits of products and brands, such as durability of materials and ease of navigation on websites and in stores.

However, even more important is that there's a person of authority and integrity supporting the product. Personal anecdotes and testimonials aren’t quite enough; men require your advocate to be discernably important and credible ― an industry expert.

Men are already less likely to trust advertising than women, so using an authority figure to enhance your brand is perhaps the best way to prove your products and services are better than the rest.

Women Enjoy Emotion

Meanwhile, women’s brains tend to have larger and more developed prefrontal cortexes, which impact emotional response and regulation. Therefore, emotional messages tend to be effective at attracting and engaging audiences of women.

This isn’t to say all female-targeted marketing messages should bring audiences to tears; other emotions, such has happiness or frustration, can just as effectively motivate female consumers. Still, you should avoid being too heavy-handed with your use of pathos in women-targeted marketing to avoid seeming condescending.

Men Respond to Images

Men tend to have significantly larger parietal lobes, which allows them increased processing of visual information. Thus, men tend to have better spatial recognition, and they tend to be more attracted by images.

If your audience is primarily male, publishing white papers, articles, and text-heavy blogs might not be effective marketing; instead, you should consider investing in videos, infographics, and other image-heavy marketing materials. However, as with emotions and women, you should avoid taking this concept to the extreme as men can also be offended by seemingly demeaning tactics.

Women Follow Their Community

In women, gender sociologists have long identified a greater capacity and need to interact socially. For marketers, this need is easily leveraged into effective strategies for gaining audiences and loyal consumers. 

For example, social media is a vital tool for generating and engaging communities of fans. Women’s inherent desire to be involved socially could be a boon for your marketing team.

Furthermore, women tend to listen more to advice from their communities. Though word-of-mouth occurs with both genders, women use personal anecdotes as proof of a product’s or brand’s benefits. Thus, to motivate a female audience, you might take advantage of referral program software to create community-minded marketing campaigns.

Men Eliminate to Decide

Understanding how the genders make buying decisions is important when you're determining which marketing messages to make. Ever logical, men tend to ascertain which attributes are most important in their desired products and eliminate all possibilities that lack those necessary traits.

As one psychologist writes, men are focused on making fast, good-enough decisions. Therefore, when attracting a male audience, you might perform research on your consumers’ most valued qualities before drafting messages for your campaign.

Women Reach a Consensus

Conversely, women consider all features of products before they make buying decisions. This is a result of the enhanced corpus callosum in female brains, which allows women to multi-task and distribute their thinking more effectively.

When marketing to female audiences, you must be the best in every aspect: Not only must your products be well-made and well-priced, but your brand must support the values of your target audience.


Tiffany Rowe is a leader in marketing authority. She assists Seek Visibility and our clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.