2015 Presents: Gendered Bread

What? Yes…Stonemill Bakehouse, an Ontario based bread manufacturer has just released bread targeted specifically to each gender. genderFor men, there’s the green packaged, protein packed, fibre fuelled Barley and Rye. For women, (who apparently don’t need protein and fibre) there’s the pink packaged, calorie conscious, calcium filled Hemp and Quinoa.

“Gendered eating” is not limited to bread. Marketing has played the gender card many times before when branding certain foods.

yogurthumAds tell us that meat is man food and we learn that women eat flaky, flavourless “guilt-free” snack foods and yogurt. But rarely do you see anything other than daily supplements be specified as “his” and “hers”.

The company insists the intention behind the Health and Well-Being bread is to directly target the nutritional needs of each gender. From a marketing perspective, it’s right on point. Why? Because as I mentioned above, specifically marketed products shape our way of thinking. Throw in a few trendy buzz foods we can’t pronounce like quinoa and you’ve got a wheaty gold goose. 

The health bread craze has been baking up for a little while now with company’s such as Country Harvest and Dempster’s using ingredients like “chia” (like the pets?), ancient grain and everyone’s favourite crop – quinoa. Now I’m no Nutritional Expert here, but I would concerned with anyone who derived most of their daily nutritional intake from bread…of any gender… In fact many of these breads still contain fructose (which, in considerate amounts, causes insulin resistance and high blood pressure), preservatives and other unhealthy additives.

So there you stand. It’s a Wednesday night Loblaws run and you’re staring at the endless aisle of health breads, gluten free breads, whole wheat breads and you’re favourite of all – good old white. Stonemill has noted your yoga pants and your calorie-counting wrist watch and thinks they know you. And they are presenting you with that pretty pink package that fits in so perfectly with your stereotype. But let’s face it, Barley and Rye just sounds so much yummier. You rebel! You walk through the store swinging the burly green bag and when you get to the check-out and the cashier says, “Oh, picking up something for the husband?” you laugh. “No,” you smile, “Actually, I’m low on fibre.” You swing the bag over your shoulder and triumphantly leave the store. Applause ensues. You’ve concurred gender bread bias!

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Evaluating the Evolution of Smooth

It all started in the summer of 2013. A twerking, tweaking former teen star was climbing the charts with “We Can’t Stop”. (What a time to be alive!) And as I watched the insanely popular music video something struck me – no, not the giant bear backpacks and no, not the man eating a sandwich made of dollar bills. A simple application of lip balm in a round, red pod. miley

It was instantaneous I that wanted this. But why? It wasn’t until after a flurry of Google searching I found it these stress-ball sized spheres are 95% organic, petroleum free and full of vitamins. So how could a 2 second flash of product, applied by Hannah Montana (not someone I particularly idolize), conjure in me a need to try every colour available at the drug store? And how has this now ubiquitous brand stirred such a demand in other consumers?

The company, Evolution of Smooth or “Eos” has been around 2009. In recent years it has resurrected a love for lip balm not seen since the 90s. The company also produces hand creams, but it’s the balm that collects the big bucks. It rivals natural competitors Burt’s Bees and conventionally made products like Blistex.

Pop artists are throwing in almost as much product placement of Eos as Beats by Dre headphones. eosNow that’s saying something! Eos has over 3 million Facebook “likes” and over 800k Instagram followers. Celebs like Jennifer Lopez are gramming pics of themselves using unique Eos hashtags. jlo

The company’s wild popularity has sprung about a multitude of copycats such as this cube from recognized lip care brand Soft Lips. soft

Because of Eos’s strong social media presence, the company has invested in few traditional advertising efforts. They know their target audience (young, trendy, social media savvy) and capitalize on it. The product design is genius in it’s simplicity – modern, stylish, uncomplicated, candy coloured and collectable. It’s oversized shape doesn’t have much in the way of practicality (try putting one in your jean pocket), but neither does an oversized clutch or a pair of 5 inch heels. That doesn’t make them any less desirable. The balm itself is again simple in nature. Soft, sweet smelling and easy to apply. The little Eos “eggs” fit perfectly into this generation of chemical conscious consumers searching for product purity.

Target in the Red, Says Goodbye to the Red and White

I need bedsheets. And for the past week I’ve putting off making the Icelandic-expedition-like journey to my local Target store to get them. “Don’t worry, we can always buy them next week.” my boyfriend told me last evening, adding “Target will still be there on Monday.”

But as I awoke this morning, my Twitter feed was abuzz with some alarming news. In fact, Target might not be there come Monday. Target stores will be ripped out of their retail locations just as quickly as the discount department store showed up in the North, leaving 133 stores vacant. Target-Closing-075The American box store began their attempted takeover in 2013 – opening over a hundred stores all over Canada and adding 9 more the following year. The costly, “too large too quick” move left newly opened Targets disorganized and some shelves bare as the company struggled to keep up with demand. Disgruntled Canuck customers also complained that Target’s prices did not reflect the great deals of their American locations. This left them to turn back to what they knew – Wal-Mart (another American giant who has been part of the true north strong and free for 19 years now). Employees were frustrated with inventory mess ups and overstocked back rooms that made locating merchandise nearly impossible.

targeteteFor those just warming up to Target after the loss of a great Canadian retailer, Zellers, this has come at quite a shock. Target will be liquidating it’s merchandise over the next few months (a great time to buy bedsheets!) and it’s locations will become hauntingly empty ruins of what once was – the faces of failure. Not to mention the closing stores are coupled with the termination of nearly 18,000 jobs.

tar

Wal-Mart found it’s feet after a rocky few years on Canadian soil, and went on to become the nation’s biggest discount retailer. Other American companies that have had great success here include: H&M, Old Navy and Winners. So it was odd that Target execs stated the reason for closing was that they would not become profitable here until well into 2021. The retreat is a decision that is keeping Target share holders confident in the company’s new CEO’s plan to save this sinking ship. The failed expansion leaves Target in multibillion dollar debt.

Looks as though Canadians will have to put “Target” back on their list of stores to stock up at on their yearly shopping trips south of the border.

Brands Try To Be Your “Bae”, Lose Credit With Young People

baeThe word “bae” is a term of endearment used ad nauseam by today’s youth. It is a short form of “baby” or “sweetie”. The slang sprung to popularity this past summer after hip hop artist Pharrell Williams introduced it to our vocabularies with his catchy single “Come Get It Bae”, despite it being used by artists such as Kanye West years earlier. It’s lyrical origins can be traced all the way back to 2005, but it took 10 years to rise to mainstream glory. The word saturates internet memes, Twitter feeds and Instagram hashtags. It was recently declared one of the “Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English due to Misuse, Overuse or Uselessness” by Lake Superior State University.

Now brands such as Ragu and Hamburger Helper are jumping on the bae-wagon. But teens are not falling for these attempts to be cool. Picture a dorky uncle at the family barbecue trying to bond with his 15 year old nephew by claiming he’s into the hip hop and saying “yo yo yo” a lot. Part of me hopes these brands are subversively mocking this overused slang, but another part of me realizes that sadly they are not. I like this Tweet from Mountain Dew the best because it exhibits the way older generations place “the” baebefore names of things, such as “Why don’t we connect over The Facebook?”.

With Pizza Hut and Whole Foods begging to be bae, and the word already on the decline, chances are it’s demise is imminent. Young tweeters are responding in a negative way to these campaigns declaring the term officially uncool now that Walmart is using it to sell them toilet paper. I have faith that brands need not worry. With a new year upon us we will witness the dawn of a new slang word. And companies have all year to finally get around to sort figuring out what it means…

Netflix Copycats Spring Up Everywhere, Satisfying TV Binge Cravings

Shomi drama! Shomi romance! What ever you are Craving, chances are one of the many online streaming options will have it for you. It seems 2015 will be the year of the online streaming service with Rogers and Shaw’s Shomi.com, offering a wide range of our favourite series for $8.99 a month. woman-tv-heart-habits-400x400 Or Bell Canada’s answer to Netflix – Crave TV. For a mere $4 a month you can binge-watch classics like 90’s sitcom Seinfeld. (However, Crave TV tacks on a few extra bucks if you want movies and some select TV series). Or there’s Amazon Prime and Hulu as well. If you don’t feel like paying and you like your pirated movies with Korean subtitles, there are countless free, virus induced illegal sites who probably will want your credit card number anyways…

It’s no surprise the internet is changing the way many people view television. It’s creating a new phenomenon mentioned above known as “binge watching”. Netflix has caught on to these 10 hour TV show gluts, aware that people can plod through entire seasons on a stay-home Sunday. Earlier this year, Netflix released a complete season of their hit original program, “Orange is the New Black”, in one mass upload. It was a delight to bingers who easily consumed the prison based comedy-drama in one big feed. TCDORIS EC030

The days of waiting week to week to find out what woman McDreamy was going to choose may be coming to end. (I was a shameless Grey’s Anatomy fan for many years). But for you traditionalist TV connoisseurs, we are still a ways away from this becoming the norm. Despite the uprising of online streaming services, only 10% of television viewers are using them to get their fix. A good percentage of us still watch week to week with anticipation, and maybe some of us prefer that method.