Catering to a Diverse Customer Base With Gender-Fluid Products

The term “gender-fluid” has been buzzing around the industry lately, but what does it really mean? Gender-fluidity is essentially about removing labels that limit one’s identity and letting people be who they are. Acknowledging and using whatever pronoun a person chooses to express their gender — like she, he or they — demonstrates respect and inclusivity. But so does recognizing that some people may not identify as any gender, or else their gender identification and expression may shift in ways that seem more, well, fluid.

Letting people choose products they want for their bodies, regardless of sex, is a new concept but one that deserves attention. For so long our industry has made products specifically designated for men or women. Now, as we are designing instead for bodies and to help people fit together, gender-fluid items are starting to become their own category. Having items for men, women and gender-fluid customers creates a diverse shopping culture and experience for everyone. Inclusivity in products takes time and work, but with patience this can create such a beautiful experience on your sales floor.

Gender-fluid products allow customers to express and celebrate the full spectrum of gender identities. These products can empower customers to affirm how they want to be seen and they will be forever appreciative of that. Such items can include harnesses and packers, as well as gear such as the stylish T-shirts offered by Thank Me Now with pronouns printed on them.

So how do you incorporate these products into your current assortment? Create a new category or a new display section. These products deserve to be in the spotlight! You are not only offering a more diverse selection of toys but are also creating an environment that is inclusive of all shoppers. This doesn’t just include gender but also being body-positive and size-inclusive. End caps or front-of-store displays are an excellent way to introduce these products to your shoppers. I personally would keep these products in a high-traffic area for a few reasons: the packaging is beautiful, the products are unique and they support an important audience in your store. I don’t see this category ever going away and I expect many other brands will begin to offer selections geared towards this important audience.

What about displays? These products don’t require any special merchandising supplies outside of what you already have in your store. Work with your manufacturer to create a display that is unique to your store. Retailers, please be vocal about display needs; it truly helps manufacturers create the brand support that will make the most impact in your store. Not able to give up a full display area? That’s OK. Continue to merchandise the products in their given categories, but perhaps include a designer sticker or sign that lets the customer know how the product transcends gender stereotypes.

Pride season is coming up and this will be a great way to demonstrate to your customers that your store offers solution-oriented products for all customer needs. Work with your manufacturer or distributor on promotional supplies for Pride events or in-store promotions. What better way to let people know you have products for them than to get involved in local LGBTQIA+ events and community opportunities. Partner with manufacturers’ marketing teams to get signage that engages and educates customers at Pride events, parades or in-store events.

When it comes to gender-fluid products, the goal is to have offerings that don’t make the audience feel like they are buying a toy that’s not designed for them. With the Gender Fluid line by Thank Me Now, we’ve created lifestyle imagery with a diverse group of models so that the customers can literally see themselves using the product. Nothing feels more disheartening than buying a product that you can’t identify with. Show people you care by offering products that are diverse and unique, just like their own special selves.

If there is any industry that should support being inclusive of all gender identities, it’s the adult industry. We are in such a unique and special position to help people when they are feeling vulnerable. Use your wholesale-buying power to create diversity among your toy, lingerie and fashion items. Show your customers real people in the marketing that you display in your store. And lastly, create a store culture that does its very best to be inclusive of everyone.

Catering to a Diverse Customer Base With Gender-Fluid Products by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

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