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Boys do not cry: the negative effects of brand masculinity on brand emotions


Building on the literature on gender role theory and brand gender, this research examines how gender-based stereotypes regarding emotional behaviors can influence consumers’ response to brand emotions. Three experimental studies demonstrate that consumers hold the same gender-based expectations of brands as they do with human emotions. In particular, they show that masculine brands can suffer from the stereotype that masculinity is typically associated with emotional control. Consumers will judge the emotional expression of a masculine brand less appropriate, which will negatively affect the perceived sincerity of the brand. Downstream negative consequences of brand masculinity include message attitude, brand attitude, and intentions to recommend the brand. Evidence of this effect is provided for emotions that are typically associated with femininity (happiness and sadness) and masculinity (anger and pride).

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The author would like to thank Jessica Darveau (Université Laval) for her helpful suggestions and comments.


This work was supported by IÉSEG School of Management.

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Correspondence to Benjamin Boeuf.

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Appendix 1. Brand priming (studies 1 and 3)

  1. a)

    Masculine priming. Vivop is a clothing-retail company. Vivop is considered a highly adventurous brand. Its values are hard work, fearless exploration and unwavering originality.

    figure a
  2. b)

    Feminine priming. Vivop is a clothing-retail company. Vivop is considered a highly sensitive brand. Its values are openness, proximity and enthusiasm.

    figure b

Appendix 2. Study 1

  1. a)

    Masculine brand condition

    figure c
  2. b)

    Feminine brand condition

    figure d

Appendix 3. Study 2


figure e

Manipulation check

figure f

Appendix 4. Study 3

figure g

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Boeuf, B. Boys do not cry: the negative effects of brand masculinity on brand emotions. Mark Lett 31, 247–264 (2020).

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  • Brand gender
  • Gender-based stereotypes
  • Emotion appropriateness
  • Brand sincerity
  • Persuasion