Article | International Journal of Research in Marketing | December 2012

Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending

by Jill Avery

Abstract

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.

Keywords: marketing; Brands; brand building; Brand equity; brand management; brand positioning; brands and branding; consumer behavior; gender; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Product Marketing; Customer Focus and Relationships; Auto Industry; Consumer Products Industry;

Citation:

Avery, Jill. "Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending." International Journal of Research in Marketing 29, no. 4 (December 2012): 322–336. (Article was awarded the Marketing Science Institute's Best Paper Award.)