Vanity Marketing (for women only)

As I often do, I was browsing reddit when I found the following post by an apparent Singapore native who was annoyed that a bank was advertising a female only credit card…

In my country, only 2 banks here offer women-only credit cards; this is one bank. It’s been around for almost as long as I’ve lived so this is nothing new.

Still, it irks me that there’s all the talk about “gender equality” and “sexism” yet women here can apply for any credit card but men actually have (slightly) less choices.

First, it’s “women are constantly being discriminated by men and aren’t given ample opportunities to prove themselves”. Then it’s “banks are doing this because it’s been shown that women spend more than men due their higher disposable income”. So which is it?

To bad unlike in the US, there’s no statute to protect against gender discrimination, (there is for race, language or religion).

I suppose he is technically right that it is hypocritical to want gender “equality” while supporting gender segregated whatever (in this case credit cards). Even so, taking a “Bu, bu, but the dems are the REAL sexists” analogous line isn’t really worth bothering with. You can’t out-left the left. I reject gender equality altogether so such things don’t bother me per se. There are plenty of instances where men and women justifiably shouldn’t be treated the same. Credit cards are probably not one of those times, but meh, who cares how banks advertise this stuff. It doesn’t matter. Well, I could see banning women from getting credit cards at all because many are irresponsible with money and high debt makes for a poor wife. But that is a different topic.

Even though the above logic holds in this case, there is another reason why the proper response to things like “Women-only credit cards” should be amusement rather than annoyance. Female-focused advertising is, in most cases, a blatant gimmick with no real substance. In the case of a credit card, it probably has higher interest rates or worse conditions than non-female focused competitors. At minimum it is no better than similar gender neutral competitors. The fact that it has a gender focused marketing campaign is NOT a reason to pick it over other offerings on the market. In fact, it is hard to imagine how a credit card could be made female focused in anything but name. Perhaps it gives 1.5% back on any purchase of tampons, cat litter, ice cream, tissues, romantic comedies, and weight loss programs. Jokes aside, female-centric marketing is a naked attempt to appeal to female vanity and/or solipsism in order to bypass sound judgement to close the sale. That such marketing is relatively common suggests that the gambit works reasonably well. If the deception works that well, that means a large proportion of the female population is flagrantly stupid enough to fall for it. Ironically, the marketing which successfully appeals to female vanity and pride directly countermands its justification immediately upon the marketing’s success. Falling for baseless, naked manipulation is a sure sign that there is nothing to be proud of. The success of such branding is a clear and unambiguous indictment of female incompetence at the population level. Hence why I find it so amusing that most women hop right on the bandwagon for such campaigns without even a second thought. The joke is on them.

I think the funniest example of vanity marketing I have seen was when I was grocery shopping a few years ago. I was walking down the medicine aisle when I suddenly saw a laxative that was specifically “for women.” This marketing was absolutely preposterous because intestines do not vary by gender in their response to commonly used laxatives. I would have to look it up, but I would guess the same is true for more esoteric prescription laxatives. I stopped my cart and balked for a minute at the idea of “female” laxatives (or even just that some cheeky bastard would have the gall to shamelessly market such bullshit and it WORKED) before moving closer to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough the ingredients were all the same as every other brand in the aisle. Female laxatives, like many other “female” products, were just a stupid marketing gimmick to make women buy it, at a higher price, over other brands. Think about this for a second. The sales advantage of increasing female buyers more than made up for any sales disadvantage of alienating men away from this product. And this increase happens IN SPITE of it being identical with everything else available and more expensive. Either a whole lot of women are really susceptible to this type of marketing, or else women get clogged up way more than men do [or both]. Even if women get constipated more, that doesn’t change the fact that the “female” laxatives were no different than any other laxative. The pretty (turd?) flowers on the label provide absolutely zero rational justification to chose it as a product over any of the others.

Since our laws require most products list their active ingredient right on the labels, it really doesn’t make sense that “female” marketing should work at all. Maybe this is a guy thing, but I know when I am shopping for something I usually spend a minute comparing price, volumes, active ingredients, other ingredients, concentrations, or anything else that might inform my decision on what to buy. This process of evaluation would almost always make such a transparent gimmick useless (or worse than useless if I was annoyed by the deceptive nature of the label). Especially in the case of the laxatives above, the ladies could easily compare “female” laxatives to the cheapest generic brand and realize what the better deal was. Many, apparently, do not go through this obvious process and marketing female laxatives is a successful sales tactic.

This seems to be true of not just neutral products with deceptive “female” labels, but also for products implicitly understood to be mostly for women. Right out of college I spent a year teaching chemistry and biology at a high school. During one of my chemistry lessons I was rudely interrupted during a very important chemistry lecture by a group of gossiping girls. They were of course talking about which brand of hair care product was the best. Well, even back then I had the general concept of this post about female purchasing habits in my mind. I suspected their concept of “best” products had more to do with labels and gimmicks than with actual active ingredients and effectiveness. As “punishment” I required all of the girls to look up the active chemical ingredient of the various brands, the chemical reactions involved, and give a comparison report in front of the class. I can’t remember exactly which products they talked about, but it ended up having peroxides so it was probably some sort of bleaching agent. Sure enough, my suspicion was correct. All of the brands had the exact same active ingredient at the same concentration. My hope was that they learned a valuable lesson on product evaluation which could save them a lot of money, but I was left with a very distinct impression that they didn’t care at all and were just going to get whatever was most expensive because that was better for signalling status. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

Now some people might complain that there are examples of the above sort of things with the genders inverted. However, examples like female credit cards and female laxatives are a different category than the male focused products that I can think of (if you have examples I haven’t thought of, please let me know). Specifically, in the case of credit cards and laxatives, there is no implied gender of the product. Companies are taking a gender neutral product, slapping some gynocentric packaging on it, and hoping female vanity will get them more sales despite the product being in no way changed. I can’t think of any male oriented products which fits this description (A gender-neutral product which gets male-focused marketing).

The most well-known example of a male-focused marketing generally is probably the “Just for men” beard dyeing product.* However, there is a fundamental difference between this example and the two female-focused examples. Hair-dying, and thus its products, is implicitly a female activity because it is all about vanity and vanity is a very feminine conceit. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most or all activities, brands, etc which are considered feminine, outside of child-rearing, are fundamentally related to vanity. Many or most men would gladly choose grey beards over buying flowery boxes of hair dye and sissy-dyeing their beards. Either that, or they just don’t care and see dying grey hair as wholly unnecessary [or both]. The “just for men” brand is very self-consciously trying to counter the perception of hair-coloring as feminine to open up a reluctant market. Despite this direct marketing, I suspect the greying male population is still fairly reluctant to bother with hair dyeing compared to the female population as a whole. Even in this case where men might have some pretty legitimate desire to use a vanity product, vanity marketing for men just is not as effective as it is for women. This is why you never see an objectively gender neutral product labeled for men. Such things don’t work, so they don’t happen

Now before you say this is just me and my anecdotal experiences, I want to remind you that the belief that women are more vain than men has existed since ancient times. For example, in Isaiah 3 the women of Judea are described thusly:

Moreover, the LORD said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,

Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the LORD will make their foreheads bare.”

In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, 19dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

Now it will come about that instead of sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;
Instead of a belt, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;
Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.

Isaiah also talks about killing all the men to make the women suffer even more. Male Privilege. I hope god never decides to punish women too badly…. In an excellent article which is on another topic, but which also references Isaiah, Albert Nock sees a similar pattern among women in the 1920s and 30s:

The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass man — be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper — gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak minded and weak willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. The mass woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury products that she patronized is interesting; it calls to mind the women’s page of a Sunday newspaper in 1928, or the display set forth in one of our professedly “smart” periodicals. In another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.”

So I think there is more than a little something to this idea of vanity being more common in women, and unscrupulous marketeers using that fact to their advantage. Most “for women” marketing is taking advantage of female stupidity and vanity to make a profit. Most women seem completely unable or unwilling to recognize that fact. Frankly, they deserve to be fleeced if it is really that easy to do. And men should laugh at their folly rather than be mad. (Unless its your wife, in which case slap some sense into her.)

*I have never used a beard dye, and I didn’t research it for this post. Beard hair is obviously much more course than other hair and that may require different formulations or tools. If so that actually makes this a distinct product from female hair dye and thus even less of a suitable analogy.

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Idiot Tax

Words you never want to hear (surprisingly): “You just won the lottery.”

I just read one of the more interesting reddit comments I have ever seen and decided to share. I recommend you read through it as well. Apparently winning large sums of money in the lottery more often than not leads a person on roller coaster ride through their own personal hell. Opportunists, including family members, will hear the news of the large winnings and will attempt to beg, steal, divorce, sue, or even murder to get a chunk of it for themselves. Jealousy and resentment in the community can build up as well even for people not trying to actually gain personally. The prime example given in the comment was that of Jack Whittacker, and is apparently true. Amongst many other problems, the police began harassing him with traffic tickets to the point where he actually tried an abortive attempt to sue them.

One of the more interesting claims in the comment was as follows:

Large jackpot winners face double digit multiples of probability versus the general population to be the victim of:

  1. Homicide (something like 20x more likely)
  2. Drug overdose
  3. Bankruptcy (how’s that for irony?)
  4. Kidnapping

And triple digit multiples of probability versus the general population rate to be:

  1. Convicted of drunk driving
  2. The victim of Homicide (at the hands of a family member) 120x more likely in this case, ain’t love grand?
  3. A defendant in a civil lawsuit
  4. A defendant in felony criminal proceedings

I am not going to spend the time needed to verify all of these stats, but logically it makes sense that when someone suddenly gains great wealth the people around them would let their true (and horrible) colors show. And also that insane people would come out of the woodwork to harass them. A quick google search seems to support, if not the exact stats, the reality that lottery winners tend to have a bad time. I imagine reading through some of the horror stories featured in the previous search would prove quite interesting in a morbid sort of way. It might go a long way in sobering a person up with respect to winning the lottery.

I have a friend who describes the lottery as an “idiot tax” because the chances of winning are so small that you have virtually no chance of winning. A fitting description which is all the more apt after finding about this unfortunate trend. But there are plenty of idiot taxpayers and sometimes a few even win. To their everlasting suffering. If you decide to pay the idiot tax and despite all odds actually win, great care must be taken. The comment also gives seemingly reasonable personal finance advice on that as well. To quote another user:

That was the most useful thing I ever read on how to do something that i will never do

Until then, think twice about whether or not you ever want to hear the words “You just won the lottery.”

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The Inspiring Role Model America Deserves

Google ads just emailed me saying my post “the role model america deserves” violated their policy because of the lewd jokes in it and that I need to not have any adds on that page. I have deleted the original post and made it a page, because that was the easiest way to disable the sidebar. The post has been moved to the link below and no adds are present on it:

Here is a link to the new location for this post.

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