The “Gendering” of Consumer Products Has Become a Science

Researchers have found that consumer products ranging from appliances to eyeglasses are better trusted by consumers when they are given distinctive male or female attributes, using a process called “gendering.”

A recent study from the University of Miami School of Business Administration found this to be the case, and their research suggests that we may soon be seeing a lot more gendering in the products we buy.

Researchers conducted two studies – one with a group of product designers, and another with consumers.

Designers were asked to assess how the aesthetic dimensions of form (proportion, shape, and lines), color (tones, contrast, and reflection), and material (texture, surface, and weight) worked to define a product’s gender.

They looked at three gender-neutral products (shoes, fragrances and glasses), designed in eight different ways, and gave their preferences.

Next, a group of 1,600 consumers were asked to rate these products — in terms of visual appeal, their perception of each product’s functionality, and the likelihood of their purchasing each product.

The consumers – both men and women — consistently had a higher opinion of products that embodied either “male” or “female” characteristics.

For instance shopper were more likely to perceive a product as more functional when it appeared more “female” – shiny, smooth, colorful and light-weight- or “male” – angular and bulky with a dull texture. They were more likely to buy these “gendered” products than ones that lacked a clear gender association.

This is fascinating stuff – and it really makes you think about why certain products look and feel the way they do.

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