Is being green too girly?

New study says better branding can help win over males and close the sustainability gender gap


There may be a way to win over men who feel they are compromising their masculinity by being too eco-friendly – and it all comes down to stronger branding.

According to new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, part of the reason men are less likely, than women, to embrace environmentally-friendly products and behaviours is a “prevalent” association between green behaviour and femininity.

While previous findings established that men are more concerned than women about gender maintenance, in the new study, Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Sterotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption, the researchers argue this stereotype is to blame for causing men to avoid or even oppose green behaviours as they seek to preserve their gender identity.

To see if mens’ willingness to engage in green behaviours could be influenced, the researchers conducted a series of seven studies and found that by manipulating small details about green products to make them more “manly” (such as stronger names or by using more masculine packaging) men were more open to purchasing the eco-friendly products. Products tested included an eco-friendly car in China as well as branding materials related to a green charity. The study’s authors believe marketers can adapt these approaches to break down barriers and get men to purchase more green products.

Read more about the study here