Stereotype marketing is a two-fold process that involves the exploitation of specific groups and/or perceptions to create a product image and a target market segment. Stereotype marketing may include the creation of stereotyped marketing materials as well as a stereotypical segmentation and approach to the marketplace itself.
Stereotype marketing campaigns are aimed at creating a certain image or message. A stereotype marketing campaign may surround the product with suggestive images or information that implies a certain message. Let's say a certain ad campaign shows a product surrounded by young playboy types who in turn have young models all around them. The ad is clearly appealing to male youths who will equate the product with the lifestyle they may aspire to. It portrays young men as out for wealth and women, and portrays young women as subservient to those men. While this type of ad may turn off anyone outside of the target segment, it will likely appeal to the very group it stereotypes.
Stereotype marketing can involve the segmentation of the market into smaller groups based on ethnic or other stereotypes. For example, the exploitation of minorities and young people went on for decades by the cigarette industry. Minorities were targeted with advertisements aimed at appealing specifically to them using stereotypical images and settings. These ads were then placed in areas that would be viewed almost primarily by minorities as an attempt to further focus on stereotypical behavior and not a larger brand or product message. Young people were marketed to using cartoon characters and strategically placed ads that would have the greatest impact.
One of the most common examples of stereotype marketing occurs in full view of millions of people every day. Many cleaning supply companies cast only women in their commercials. These spots show stay-at-home moms cleaning the kitchen and wiping up after junior. There is never a man to be found, except perhaps for an authority figure who shows the bewildered woman how the work is done. At the same time, these ads are slotted to run primarily during daytime TV shows that cater to a mostly female audience. The result is an example of stereotype marketing and stereotype segmenting all aimed at convincing the stay-at-home mom that she should be cleaning and using the product in question.
The problems with stereotype marketing stem from its isolation of certain groups as a method of conveying a marketing message. By alienating one or more groups, the stereotype marketer may create resentment against the brand rather than loyalty to it. When specific groups are targeted with marketing that highlights stereotypical traits, the result can be positive for the bottom line but negative for the brand overall.