Beyond "Pink It and Shrink It" Perceived Product Gender, Aesthetics, and Product Evaluation

Miriam van Tilburg, Theo Lieven, Andreas Herrmann, Claudia Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Marketing research on product personality suggests that products possess gender; however, the process by which a product becomes masculine or feminine is unknown. This research identifies product aesthetics as a source of product masculinity and femininity and investigates the influence of product gender created by aesthetics on consumer behavior. Building on prior work on anthropomorphism and evolutionary psychology (EP), the authors broadly hypothesize that specific physical characteristics identified as representing masculinity and femininity-and thus considered attractive in the mate selection process-will have a similar effect on products. The first study identifies the impact of the aesthetic dimensions of form (proportion, shape, and lines), color (tones, contrast, and reflection), and material (texture, surface, and weight) on defining a product's gender. The second study shows that products that are strongly gendered, particularly those that are strong in both the masculine and feminine dimensions, result in positive affective and behavioral responses. Thus, this research identifies product aesthetics as a significant source of product gender while highlighting the theoretical contribution of EP to consumer behavior. Managerial implications for product design are then discussed, offering guidelines for creating strongly gendered products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-437
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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