A few weeks back I wrote about female-specific protein, and how essentially they’re the same product as regular protein powders, just in a different packet, and maybe with some folic acid sprinkled in for good measure. Unfortunately, the gender-specific stuff doesn’t stop there, and it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.
This week I found peanut butter for women. I know, crazy right? It was in the MyProtein Active Women range. I’ve been a customer of MyProtein since 2012, but it was their Active Women range that I began looking into the gender specific branding of products in the first place.
The product is a three-seed nut butter so contains sunflower seeds, linseeds, and chia seeds, but let’s be honest, it’s not just for women is it? Well, the garish pink branding certainly suggests it is, and the product description uses phrases like “guilt free” which is usually part of female diet or weight loss adverts. As you’ll see later, it’s not exactly guilt free as it’s only marginally less calorific than standard peanut butter.
Another thing I noticed was an extremely suspect review for this, and another MyProtein Active Women product.None of this sat right with me so I thought put my critical eye over things, and ask what I felt, were warranted questions.
Initially I challenged the online chat on the MyProtein website, and received an alarmingly poor response.
The highlight of which being, and I quote, “There is nothing women specific about the ingredients of this (it’s got a pink label but isn’t loaded with oestrogen)”. LOADED WITH BLOODY OESTROGEN! Offensive much?
I was also told that the fibre is higher, the fat is lower, and calories are lower than regular peanut butter. I challenged this as fibre and fat in regular peanut butter is actually greater. They then said it’s just the calories which are lower, which they are, but only 20 calories less per 100g, which is negligible if you’re only having a small serving…and who the hell has a small serving of nut butter?!
Here’s my comparison table:
You can only buy the standard peanut butter in 1kg tubs, and only buy the Active Women version in a 265g tub, so the prices for both are for illustration purposes, to show how much more expensive the Active Women product is based on weight. The ingredients are different so could partially account for this, but it’s still a big discrepancy.
Next on my list was the Twitter team. When I put my questions to them, I was told “ingredients in the products are proven to being more effective to women, therefore along with this detail and the marketing opportunity we have launched this range.” They were not able to answer which specific ingredient in this product made it more beneficial to females. We went back and forth but really I got nowhere.
Another thing I challenged them on was the validity of a review for the product. To me, it had a whiff of a fake review posted by MP or someone on behalf of them.
The username GymBunny1984 was the first red flag. Second, was the fact it seemed like a marketer’s dream kind of review. Finally, I then Googled “GymBunny1984 MyProtein” and found another review, on the same day, for a women’s product, giving it 5 stars, which was practically a features and benefits list. I’ve worked in sales and marketing for 10 years, so things like this stick out like a sore thumb. MyProtein wouldn’t challenge that validity, but I’ll let you guys be the judge:
After numerous direct messages on Twitter, they offered to call me. It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard so I respected the offer of a phone conversation.
I put my questions to a Customer Services Manager who explained the rationale behind the whole range, but couldn’t say specifically what it was about this product which made it sit in the female range.
From the beginning I’ve always said that commercially, I get it. And, if it’s a way of getting more females into health and fitness then it’s on the whole a positive thing. However, it shouldn’t be happening with a product which has absolutely no reason to be marketed in this way. We’re talking about peanut butter here! Thankfully, a number of Instagram users feel the same way:
For the time being at least, it looks like we’ll see more of this kind of thing entering the marketing, confusing an already confused marketplace. But the hope remains at the least that we’ll see and end to boys versus girls.
Drop your comments in below, and let me know if you’ve seen any other examples of this kind of stuff.