British Comedian David Mitchell hosts a brilliantly funny series of outbursts, one of which talks about male grooming. To understand the quintessential mind of a man, listen to his rant about how marketing companies target the male audience in something as everyday as grooming products.
With intelligent sarcastic disdain, Mitchell questions the use of aftershave, adding that it’s something “you’ve chosen, to smell pretty…like a girl.” He then digs into deodorant, where between the lines you can read that men use deodorant to lure the opposite sex – versus women, who use it to stay fresh. Next up are razors, and Mitchell draws up a mock campaign of a new razor – described with the same language and passion men use to talk about weapons.
For Mitchell, the mind of a man is quite simple; it’s about being ‘manly’. And yet, the speech is delivered by a soft pudgy man child sitting on an oversized couch. For you, the question becomes: how do you market to men when they are just as diverse in their preferences as women might be?
That’s actually a bit of a trick question. First, even women ultimately want the same things when it comes to certain areas in life. Every woman desires to be beautiful and will spend on beauty products even if their interests are otherwise completely varied. And in the case of the male species, men are going to want things simply pitched, whether they’re all brawns or all brains.
Now of course, if your enterprise business caters to the alpha male, you’re going to need to adjust your campaigns. Similarly, if you’re dealing with another demographic, say mature fathers, then you’ll need to adjust your messaging for that too. All campaigns have to be adjusted of course, but when it comes to men the bottom line is to keep things simple.
Simplicity doesn’t imply simple minds. This is where men and women’s brains differ. Women are natural multi-taskers, especially as they become mothers. Women, for better or worse, often entertain multiple thoughts or have parallel internal dialogues running through their mind at any given time. We’re able to jump quickly between things and then jump back. There’s a sort of neuroplasticity that men don’t have, which makes them the more single-minded, focused species.
There’s more to understanding the psychology of men than just that. In recent years, there’s been a cultural shift about gender narratives. For women, it’s been about finding their voice. For men, it’s been about breaking older narratives. This is why Mitchell’s comedic rant is so on point; it shows how flawed older scrips for men are. Not every man is or wants to be Rambo.
Breaking some of the older narratives including getting rid of the idea that men follow models. The film The Tree of Life is a great example of that. The father in that film (played by Brad Pitt) is the stereotypical harsh male that believes he’s the master of his household. His son (played by Sean Penn) grows up to be completely different. The nutshell here for us is that not all men subscribe to the same roles. But this is the sort of myth that is perpetuated in marketing campaigns that don’t understand men. We need to change that by first understanding the men who are your clients and customers.
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