It requires minimal awareness to realize that there has been a cultural shift in gender norms. We no longer live in a binary world of he/her, man/woman, mom/dad, etc. While some companies are resistant to adopting more neutral or inclusive terms, others are realizing that inclusivity and awareness are not only good for employee morale, but also the bottom line.
When it comes to market research studies and recruiting, it is important to include individuals who don’t conform to binary restrictions. We are starting to get requests from clients to recruit clients who identify as non-binary, trans, or prefer gender-neutral pronouns. Such requests aren’t limited to consumer studies, but to health and medical studies as well.
Recruiting a diversity of participants for market research studies goes beyond typical demographic and psychographic groupings. Including insights from gender non-conforming individuals ensures that your study includes the opinions, insights, frustrations, and opportunities from any person or group who uses or interacts with your products.
Recruiting gender diverse people to participate in market studies can be very illuminating as it may highlight blind spots you didn’t realize you had. For example, if you’re developing a marketing campaign are you tailoring your message to a predominately male or female audience? Perhaps taking a more gender-neutral approach would appeal to a wider range of potential customers. Skin-care products are case in point. While it’s easy to think that the obvious target audience would be women, you might be surprised to learn that in 2018 alone more than 56% of U.S. men used a facial cosmetic item at least once.
Recruiting market study participants that identify outside of typical binaries doesn’t mean that all your marketing efforts become gender-neutral, but don’t assume that your audience cleaves along a gender binary. When it comes to recruiting, start by thinking about your brand’s target audience and if it is driven by gender, then you’ll want to expand how you define your audience so that you include those who would be left out if you recruited along a strict male/female split.
Considering gender norms in market research isn’t limited to specific industries or companies. Many legacy companies, such as Apple and Mattel, are paving the way for ways to be inclusive in product design and marketing campaigns. Apple makes the assumption that all people are potential customers for its iPhone, and it offers its product in a variety of colors without marketing which color is preferred by which gender identification. Mattel conducted market studies and as a result created a gender-neutral line of dolls called Creatable World, after learning that kids didn’t want toys that were dictated by gender norms.