NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITIES – GENDER INCLUSIVE PRODUCTS
By Fatima Ezzeddine Mayo
ARE MILLENNIALS MORE LIKELY TO BUY GENDER-INCLUSIVE PRODUCTS? IS THIS A NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITY?
According to a poll conducted by Fusion, 50 percent of millennials believe that gender is a spectrum and that “some people fall outside conventional categories”.
Gender ambiguity has been around for quite a long time, from David Bowie to Mick Jagger and Coco Chanel, there has always been a desire within society to explore the differences between male and female and bridge the gap between the two worlds. However, with globalisation and information provided through the internet, today’s generations are more open-minded than ever to new concepts such as gender-inclusivity, androgynous individuals and unisex items. Also, as stated by Suley Muratoglu (Progressive Grocer, 2014), “Generations Y (the Millennials) and Z exhibit an evolving and fungible view of what it is to be masculine and feminine, in part because of economic realities that are putting men and women on more equitable career paths.” Which suggests that a key cultural driver for gender-inclusivity is that every year we are moving towards a more equal society and that then translates into the consumers’ daily lives such as the products they use and the garments they buy.
Furthermore, according to a survey done among Generation Z, or people aged 13 to 20, about 81 percent said that gender doesn’t define a person. (Well & Good, 2019) This leads to the claim that Gen-Z is one of the most socially aware generations and that they don’t care about traditional identity pointers or the marketing ploys that follow them.
There are already players in the niche genderless segment (i.e. Canadian label Rad Hourani) but streetwear has always been stylistically genderless. The oversized, unstructured silhouettes favoured by streetwear designers are akin to uniforms. They’re difficult to categorise by gender, and the rapid growth of the streetwear trend through the last few years has more than likely strongly pushed and driven the genderless movement. Especially since 2005 when hypebeast.com was launched.
Another considerable driving agent for Millennials and Gen-Zs is their willingness to explore, what has been until recently “out of the norm”, is globalisation through the extensive use of the internet. The youngest generations have grown up consuming media from all over the world, and, most important they have been surrounded by different cultures. Big cities all over the world are more diverse than ever, and with knowing the differences of those that are around us, we become more open-minded and accepting of the differences and we question what we have known until now. According to Phil Wood et, al. (2006) “London is now more diverse than any city that has ever existed. Altogether, more than 300 languages are spoken by the people of London, and the city has at least 50 non-indigenous communities with populations of 10,000 or more.” A diverse population tends to lead to a more diverse representation in the media, since the consumers’ views are true to their persona, and hence why the consumers’ demand different products.
The growth in diversity, however has not only accommodated different races but it’s also made room for different body types and different sexualities. Transgender and queer representation have definitely increased over the last few years across media. The positive response of the general public, and especially the younger generations, towards this trend shows that they could and are interested in more inclusive and less “labelled” products. As mentioned previously, Millennials and Gen-Zs believe that gender is a spectrum and therefore gender specific products do not appeal to them as much as non-gendered and unisex/all-inclusive goods.
Following the mention of trends, another recent key trend is natural beauty. Since consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about what is inside the products that they use, products using “natural” ingredients are on the rise. Most of these products, however, since they mostly focus on their effectivity and their ethos of staying natural while being an overall sustainable brand, they are very often non-gendered, which could also be the formula to their success.
In conclusion, Millennials are definitely interested in unisex products and it is a market that is rapidly growing yet it is fairly new, which means that it could be a great opportunity for up and coming businesses. As mentioned by The Cassandra Gender Report: “They do not want society to tell them what men and women should do or buy; rather, they want to define items they purchase by their own unique use of them.”
Photo credited to Rad Hourani and his innovative approach
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