'People can not celebrate gender holidays but buy a frying pan at a discount'

Whether it is correct to offer sales promotions based on gender today

'People can not celebrate gender holidays but buy a frying pan at a discount'
Photo: gor-park.ru

A new social rhetoric has been on the agenda in the last few years. Many people wonder: are there still various promotions and bonuses in marketing that are “distributed” according to the gender principle? By February 23 and March 8, many companies offer separate terms of service to customers and clients, and not everyone likes it — the idea that in the modern world it is simply indecent to separate people by gender in marketing is already quite loud. With the help of experts, Realnoe Vremya examines whether Western trends have reached Russian businesses and whether the new optics affect the relevance of gender actions.

February 23 — discounts for boys, March 8 — bonuses for girls

On the eve of the main men's and women's holidays in Russia, which are considered February 23 and March 8, ads are full of various offers and discounts addressed to men and women, respectively. Among the most common offers for February 23 is a 23 percent discount on various goods and services under the slogan “real men — real discounts”. In cafes and restaurants on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day, as a rule, a male visitor is offered an alcoholic drink as a gift or, for example,a third free beer. Russian Railways this year, for example, have already been generous with a 30% discount for men when buying tickets in a compartment on certain dates.

But many are beginning to get annoyed by this kind of gender-based actions. In social networks, there are discussions about whether “separate marketing” is sexism and what is to blame, for example, female military personnel, who, for a moment, are not offered any benefits in service on February 23. With the help of Tatarstan and federal experts, we are trying to find out whether the new gender optics has already reached Russian marketing, whether gender promotions are appropriate from an ethical point of view, and whether the benefit from them is reduced for the companies offering them.

Pandemic is no time for experimentation

The director of the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Kazan and Tatarstan, Galina Sharafutdinova, in an interview with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, shared that, despite modern social trends, promotions for gender holidays are still “ok” for customers, so cafes and restaurants do not refuse them so far:

“Guests still like special offers, and in some formats they come quite actively. Nevertheless, we understand that the creation of loyalty still occurs by other methods. We keep our guests not with discounts, promotions and gifts, but with the atmosphere and delicious food. People have become sophisticated, they have a large selection of establishments before them. They spend money on those establishments where they find a combination of all the key points, for which they go to a cafe or restaurant and do not stay at home. It is important that the guest likes the object for the atmosphere, concept, and quality of the dishes.”

According to our interlocutor, this year the public catering enterprises of Kazan have not broken the traditions and prepared special promotions for February 23, seeing nothing indecent in them. The most common of these are welcome-drink for men, the third free glass of beer when buying two. On March 8, women are traditionally offered a glass of wine as a gift.

“I can't say that such offers are not interesting yet, they work. At the moment when the client chooses from all the offers, this story can motivate the choice. Of course, the guest will not go specifically to this offer, but knowing that all other factors in the institution also meet his expectations," says Sharafutdinova.

Speaking about the economics of the effectiveness of such actions, the expert notes that they work more on the image component.

“This helps to maintain the loyalty of guests and increase the frequency of repeated visits. The profitability of the action in this case is low," says the interlocutor. “Today, when due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we 'fight' for every guest, all this helps to survive. Consumer demand has fallen due to the pandemic, debts have accumulated for the lockdown, and it is now the low season (traditional for January-February), and every restaurateur finds ways to attract and retain his guest.”

According to Sharafutdinova, now not everyone will decide on an experiment: the new approach may not work.

“Gender promotions should be put in the grandmother's chest”

Yevgenia Lampadova, the founder of the LAMPA communication agency, admits in an interview with our publication that gender holidays are still popular. However, the context of their celebration is obviously changing. First, more and more often these dates are combined and one common holiday after March 8 is arranged. Second, gifts become universal. For example, people are increasingly moving away from gifts in the spirit of “flowers for women, socks for men” and moving to gender-neutral greetings that will be useful or like both the female and male sex, and this is the right way, the expert is convinced.

According to our interlocutor, various gender bonus and discount promotions generally need to be put in the grandmother's chest and forgotten about them once and for all, especially when they are aimed at a young audience aged 10-25 years.

“For such audience, this is usually just an excuse to say in response: “Ok, boomer” (this is a mocking answer to a representative of the older generation, boomer. Something like: “Yes, yes, old man” — editors note), and not to take advantage of such a tempting offer," Lampadova is convinced.

“Maybe a man does not want to join the army but will take advantage of a marketing offer”

Founder of the She is an expert project, coordinator of the Democracy programme of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Russia, Nuria Fatykhova, says that the changes will never affect the mass market.

“Of course, these holidays are popular. Moreover, the state also emphasises their meaning in every possible way: it makes them days off, and thematic films are shown on state channels. And businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, react to this," she says in an interview with Realnoe Vremya. “But it should be emphasised that March 8, in fact, is International Day of Solidarity with Women. And in Russia, more and more media are beginning to react to this day not as a holiday of “lovely ladies”, but as an opportunity to celebrate some changes, to talk about women's problems. In March, there are many festivals, exhibitions, and conferences dedicated to gender equality issues. Ten years ago, the picture was very different.”

According to Fatykhova, many women today perceive this holiday more politically.

“As for February 23, everything is more complicated there," the expert states. “It just reflects a very patriarchal idea of the role of a man — as a defender who must risk his life. From the point of view of gender equality, this is not very fair.”

Fatykhova notes that various gender actions are not remnants but an opportunity to cling to what “flies in the air”.

“Maybe a man does not want to join the army but will take advantage of a marketing offer — for example, to go somewhere with a discount," she believes.

So in our country, all this is still perceived favourably: people just get additional bonuses, which they hurry to use.

“These are two completely different things: a personal position and a profitable purchase”

Natalia Ldinova, the director and co-owner of the Well Media advertising agency, confirms that on February 23 and March 8, brands traditionally create gender creativity and develop special promotions:

“This is a great opportunity to increase sales, and many companies do not miss this opportunity. However, recently, more and more people are speaking out against gender holidays. Many people are annoyed by sad gifts in the form of socks, shaving foam, etc., as well as the contrast of attitudes towards women on March 8 and on a regular day. Others pay attention to the history of the holidays and their political background. But so far, this is a very small part of the population.”

At the same time, the traditions of celebrating gender holidays in kindergartens and schools remain, which means that the majority will continue to perceive these holidays as a way to please their loved ones, the expert argues.

“People are very complex creatures: they can not celebrate gender holidays and, at the same time, buy a frying pan at a very profitable discount timed to March 8, or a tent with a discount in the shop 'Everything For Fishing' in honour of February 23," says Ldinova.

According to the interlocutor, brands are also divided into two camps: some create promotions, following the tradition, but do not launch separate advertising campaigns with gender creativity, others specifically create promotions and creative for February 23 and March 8.

“I do not celebrate gender holidays, but this does not prevent me from buying goods and services at a favourable discount in honour of February 23 or March 8. These are two completely different things: a personal position and a profitable purchase," she concluded.

By Kristina Ivanova