It remains a mystery who, if anyone, identifies with the ups and downs of Jamie Lee Curtis’ digestion—but it’s probably not young men.
Curtis’ endorsement of Dannon’s Activia yogurt is by no means the only female-geared marketing tactic to beset the dairy aisle, where pastel colors abound. But with more "manfluencers"—or, men “responsible for at least half of the grocery shopping and meal preparation for their households”—taking the reins of the grocery cart, the gender identity of food products is undergoing a major shift, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
Lu Ann Williams, who works for the Dutch company Innova Market Insights, tells the Journal that the grocery store shelves are littered with branding and packaging that undermines masculinity.
"A beer or soda in a long-necked, brown bottle makes a man feel like a man. Drinking out of a straw does not—puckered lips and sunken cheeks are not a good guy look," she says.
So how do you sell yogurt, which is inherently gender neutral, to men? Black labels, bold fonts, more protein. One new product, Powerful Yogurt, features the slogan “Find Your Inner Abs,” which may be the meathead pitch for probiotics?
So little separates brogurt from yogurt (ladygurt? femmegurt?), and the same goes for hard cider which, despite being hard—a totally bro adjective—is seen as a light, effeminate alternative to beer in the stark world of grocery store gender norms. Bro cider? It’s “Made Strong,” the tagline for the MillerCoors-owned Smith & Forge (so masculine!), which clocks in at 6 percent alcohol by volume—a full percentage point higher than those other weak, sissy ciders.
The whole masculinity approach rather falls apart in the world of coffee, where the “macho answer to sugary, flavored lattes” is cold-brewed coffee. The story notes that it’s served black, a grocerybro selling point—dark, intensely, slightly bitter. But cold-brew-loving third-wave coffee geeks, with their sensitive, flowery tasting notes, minutia-level obsession with roasts and grinds and extractions—not to mention the twee suspenders-and-bowties style found at coffee shops like Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which is mentioned in the story—bucks the cheap-beer-and-muscle-cars ideal of masculinity.
So there’s hope for a future of less rigid gender norms in product marketing, but it has the disapproving face of the pretentious hipster that dotted your ristretto shot of single-lot Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with foamed house-made almond milk this morning.