What Is Market Stereotyping?

Marketers use dietary and stylistic trends to advertise products to stereotyped groups.
Marketers use dietary and stylistic trends to advertise products to stereotyped groups. (Image: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Stereotypical marketing campaigns are commonly aimed at a specific target market. The practice of identifying a product or service with a specified group is usually accomplished with photographs or videos of users who represent the group. Marketers call this segmentation, but segments are often overly generalized into narrow market stereotypes that alienate some customers and offend others.

Varieties of Stereotypes

Stereotypes are used when depicting consumer groups from certain ethnic backgrounds and economic situations. More commonly the roles of men and women are represented by gender stereotypes that promote products to one of the sexes. Age is commonly represented by preconceived notions of the character, preferences and political standpoints of certain generations. New stereotypes attempt to categorize markets based on limited information about groups, such as the vegetarian market profiled as tree-hugging naturalists with nutritional deficiencies.

Purpose Behind Stereotyping

Market stereotypes are intentionally formatted as segmentations, or attempts to aim products at a particular target market in the same way sugared cereals are segmented with advertising campaigns for young children. Advertisers hope to sell products by creating representatives of market segments in photographs and videos. Many market stereotypes are the result of limited understanding of particular cultures, generations, gender roles or other perceived market segments. Attempts to identify certain groups become narrowed stereotypical misrepresentations.


The problems arising from stereotypical marketing campaigns include biased misrepresentations of groups being perceived as honest portrayals, leading products to be mistakenly advertised. Advertisements historically have erroneously promulgated opinions of ethnic groups. Women are typecast for roles depicted by marketers throughout the world, which often becomes a labor issue for women who are unfairly overlooked for promotions. Men, conversely, are mistakenly left out of marketing campaigns by marketers who overlook a family man's purchasing influence.

Stereotype Examples

One common American market stereotype is the representation of African-American women that dates back to colonial slave keepers. This market profile depicted black women as cheerful and overweight keepers of kitchens for white families. The portrait of Aunt Jemima carried this stereotype for several generations. The impression that all markets perceive product names the same is a stereotype Chevrolet overlooked when advertising the "Nova" in Hispanic markets. In Spanish, the words "no va" mean "does not go."

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