DOI: 10.1002/mar.21978 ISSN: 0742-6046

How brand gender affects consumer preference for sweet food: The role of the association between gender and taste

Ying Ding, Yanzheng Liu, Sunxu Xu
  • Marketing
  • Applied Psychology


Although previous studies have provided some exploratory evidence of the gender‐taste association, empirical evidence on the causal relationships and downstream consequences of such an association in the consumer behavior domain is still lacking. To address this gap, the present research empirically documents the association between gender and taste, and explores the spillover effect of brand gender on consumer preference for sweet food. Across four studies, we demonstrate that feminine and sweet are cognitively associated (Study 1), and accordingly, products launched by a feminine brand are perceived to be sweeter than those launched by a masculine brand (Study 2). Furthermore, a feminine (vs. masculine) brand leads to a higher preference for its sweet (vs. unsweet) products, which is mediated by the perceived congruence between brand gender and product taste (Study 3). Finally, we identify brand type as a moderator, showing that the congruence effect between brand gender and product taste holds for traditional brands but is attenuated for innovative brands (Study 4). Our findings advance the understanding of brand gender association and its impact on consumer behavior and offer meaningful implications for market positioning and communication.

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