Male shoppers may be more difficult to reach with Internet marketing than their female counterparts in an era focused on social sites and so-called gender-neutral media.
Sites like Facebook and Pinterest have rightly become a major focus for Internet marketers. In the case of Facebook, there is a huge user base — 955 million at the end of June 2012 — while Pinterest is the hot new property of the moment. Both sites, along with just about any other social media site, can be very cost-effective ways to engage potential customers.
Men Are Harder to Reach on Social Media
Without taking anything away from social media marketing or even Internet marketing more generally, it may be that reaching men with promotional messages has actually become more difficult in the midst of the present social media marketing craze.
For example, depending on which estimates one trusts, somewhere between 68 percent and 80 percent of American Pinterest users are women. Meaning that as great as pinning may be for general online marketing, it might not be a good choice for targeting men.
Similarly, there is a significant amount of data indicating that men are far less likely to engage on Facebook. In February, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that women were almost twice as likely to post Facebook status updates as men were.
Finally, if you checked out Pinterest's Facebook page, you would find that some 97 percent of the Fans are female.
With so much online marketing focused on social sites, males, in my opinion, may be difficult targets.
There May Be Fewer Male-dominated Sites
With the possible exception of racy sites aimed at men like Playboy.com, there are not a lot of media sites specifically devoted to men's interests — in relative terms — and the sites that do distinctly serve men have seen pressure to be more inclusive in the name of gender neutrality.
For example, in the August 2012 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, the editors chose to publish a complaint from Tabitha Belshee of Escondido, Calif., who wrote “It's time for [Popular Mechanics] to get out of the 1900s. I'm offended by the favoritism toward men over women in the magazine....Are you trying to appeal to people interested in DIY — or just the antiquated idea of an all-male crowd.”
To be sure, Popular Mechanics is still a male-dominated publication with men representing approximately 90 percent of its readership, according to the magazine's December 2011 audit. Strictly men's products like Popular Mechanics are often described in sexist terms — see Belshee's comments — implying that there is something inherently wrong with or discriminatory about seeking to serve male readers or specially marketing to men.
There is no similar phenomenon wherein women's publications or websites — Cosmopolitan, Elle, O, or Better Homes and Gardens, for example — are chastised in the name of gender neutrality and encourage to include more manly content.
The relative decay of publications for men, both in the magazine and website form, means that there may be somewhat fewer sites that online marketers can use to target fellows.
There are certainly some products that are aimed at men. But, recent trends both in popular marketing and public opinion have made it more difficult to specifically focus on men. In fact, I bet that some readers, will consider these observations, well, sexist.