Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending
Harvard Business School
April 23, 2012
International Journal of Research in Marketing, Forthcoming December 2012
I study the Porsche Cayenne SUV launch to ethnographically analyze how men consuming a gendered brand respond to perceived brand gender contamination. Consumers' communal gender work in a Porsche brand community is analyzed to uncover brand gender contamination's effects on the identity projects of consumers, the brand as an identity marker, and the prevailing gender order in the group. Through the promulgation of gender stereotypes, Porsche owners stratify themselves along gender lines and create an ingroup sharply defined by masculinity and an outgroup defined by femininity. The construction of social barriers limits access to Porsche's meanings to those who achieve masculine ideals and causes SUV owners to resort to hyper-masculine behaviors to combat exclusion. Consumers' gender work reverses the firm's efforts to gender-bend the brand, reinstates Porsche as a masculine marker, and reifies particular definitions of masculinity in the community.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Keywords: gender, masculinity, consumer behavior, self/identity, branding, brand extensions, brand community, netnography, ethnography, brand management
JEL Classification: M31, M37, M30
Date posted: January 31, 2008 ; Last revised: April 29, 2012
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