Bad conscience as business concept

Do men shop? I don’t know about you, but I sure do sometimes. Women (in Sweden) do spend more on stuff like personal hygiene, shoes and clothes, books and magazines than men do. Men on the other hand spend more than women on sports, hobbies and eating out.

The reason I bring this up is because Täby Centrum, Sweden’s largest shopping mall, just published its first customer magazine called Glow. And the magazine is not a bit shy about what customers are its targets – women! The editor-in-chief welcomes her readers with the salutation “Hello, all you glorious women!”.

One would assume that the strategy behind a customer magazine should be in line with the core brand values of the business. Admittedly, shopping is associated more with women than with men, but isn’t it a stretch to leave men out of the picture all together?

When you visit the mall it is clearly not only for women. There are many stores that appeal to both men and women and there are stores that predominantly have male customers, such as Clas Ohlson, affectionately called “gubbdagis”, or “male kindergarten”. So why the magazine explicitly targets women is beyond me. It would of course have been possible to produce a fashion publication that included male consumers.

And while we are at it, the magazine paints a sad picture of the life of a woman. From the frontpage headlines (“The secret behind Keira Knightley’s pout mouth”) to the interview with the self-declared shopaholic, singer Charlotte Perelli, we men get a sense of what supposedly makes our women tick. One gets in a radiant mood from “a luxurious gold dress, delicious boots and nice sunglasses”. Another dreams about high heels, if only her body would cope and she could afford them. Manolo Blahnik is apparently god (“you cannot have too many shoes”).

Even when the magazine writes about more “gender neutral” products such as webcams and cell phones, it cannot resist giving the readers (the glorious women, remember?) a bad conscience for their bodies. “Does the GI diet stop you from putting candy in the easter egg? Give the family something you can use all year instead.”

In the column by Hanna Widell we are getting closer to what the theme of this publication is all about. Widell is divorced and leads a double life, which she loves. One week she is a successful glamouros professional, the next she is a not as glamouros single mom. And when her latest date bumps into her on the wrong week (i.e. as a mom), she concludes that she is not at all surprised that he never called again, the way she looked. In other words, you women aren’t perfect, so if you want to find a decent guy you need to go to the mall and make sure you look fantastic.

This is bad conscience and self-confidence as business concept.

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