While men are frequently marketed products promoting strength or an outdoor lifestyle, women tend to be left out of this domain, leaving open an important opportunity for brands to produce female-oriented products with a more “rugged” image, according to consumer insight firm Canadean.

Canadean’s report states that “rugged” products catering towards men, such as protein-rich yogurt featuring “manly” designs, are well-established on the market. Women who would like to be associated with brands conveying those values, however, remain overlooked.

Veronika Zhupanova, Analyst at Canadean, explains:  “Generally speaking, women have innumerably diverse interests beyond appearance, cooking and calorie counting, and do not want to be seen as fragile. Indeed, women are not necessarily interested in typically ‘feminine’ products which promote such a limited lifestyle, desiring instead to be seen as enjoying life to the full. This means the demand for brands conveying “ruggedness” in products aimed at women will grow.”

A Canadean global survey found that 54% of women agree with the statement “I like to buy food and drink products that are reflective of my attitudes and opinions in life” (as opposed to 50% of men). 55% of women agree with the statement “I like to buy personal care products that are reflective of my attitudes and opinions in life” (as opposed to 43% of men).

Zhupanova states: “These figures reflect the importance of getting the message right when targeting women. Not only is their buying behavior more aligned to their attitudes and personal opinions, they are also more influenced by brand stories than men.”

To cater to this audience, manufacturers should target women’s sense of adventure, strength and stamina, but be mindful to include both male and female role models in marketing campaigns, and avoid overtly masculine packaging designs.

Zhupanova continues: “Making products look more exciting and focusing on their attributes rather than which gender they cater for will appeal to women who feel undermined by the “pink it and shrink it” positioning.”

There is also a niche for “women-only” positioning, as certain brands have started to disseminate messages encouraging female empowerment. For example, the #LikeAGirl campaign by feminine hygiene brand Always addresses confidence issues women are subject to during adolescence by encouraging women and girls to embrace their strong qualities and boost self-esteem.

Zhupanova concludes: “This sort of message can be employed beyond the feminine hygiene segment, and finding relevant messages where women feel they are overlooked, such as sports or extreme outdoor adventures, will resonate with the female population and encourage greater confidence.”

Editor’s notes

- Comments provided by Veronika Zhupanova, Analyst at Canadean.

- Information based on Canadean’s report: TrendSights Analysis: Self-Branding; Exploring consumers’ perception of brands’ impact on their image and lifestyles.

- All information correct at time of publication and based on Canadean's research methodology.