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Is gender a meaningful way to segment office products customers?

Is gender a meaningful way to segment office products customers?

OfficeMax is now targeting working women (aged 28-45) according to this Ad Age article (click here). They have launched a new ad campaign called ‘Life is Beautiful’ (click here), targeted squarely at women.

OfficeMax is known for unusual promotions like it’s hugely popular three-year old Elf Yourself holiday promotion, which allows customers to convert themselves (or their friends) into animated elves and send it to others. Their Back-to-School 2008 campaign “Power to the Penny” and their “A Day Made Better” program have been noticed by many business writers.

Officemax spends approximately half the money that Office Depot spends on advertising and only a fourth of what Staples spends.

Is this unusual way of segmenting the office products market (working women) a good idea?

I think this is a brilliant idea only so long as OfficeMax does not alienate the male buyers.

  • None of the other major players (Staples, Office Depot) actively target the working woman, a significant portion of the working population.
  • Research studies have shown that women hate shopping for office supplies
  • I assume that mothers make a lot of buying decisions during Back-to-School season as well (for their kids).
  • However the risk that OfficeMax runs is that men may not like to associate themselves with a store that is seen as ‘feministic’.
  • Also the purchasing departments of many corporates may not be affected by gender-specific advertising. (When is the last time, you as an employee told your purchasing department where to buy printing paper and office supplies from?)

Let me know what you think…

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This article was written in Feb 2009

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