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Market appeal is sometimes used as an excuse for sexist behaviour, sexualized environments, or (especially) sexualised products or messages, that is, that sexism has various messages that are good marketing therefore a business has no choice but to use them. Examples of where it has been used in geek products include:
- justifying the inclusion of heterosexual romance and sex plots aimed at men into games or media at a far greater rate than other relationship configurations
- justifying the inclusion of female nudity or female undress (for example, women warrior characters without full body armour)
- justifying sexualized presentations
People who use this argument typically argue that commercial enterprises have no business being socially progressive and that messages will appeal to women as soon as women have market power, so they should focus on obtaining that, at which point they will find that the marketing problem has gone away. Problems with this argument include:
- there is a feedback loop between market power and who sellers believe has market power, in that if there's nothing women want to buy there is no way for them to demonstrate market power
- a single example of a women or diversity-targeted product that failed is frequently taken as definitive proof that there is no point in any such product
A related issue is that any business that relies on advertising as its core revenue model has to cater not to its audience, but to the advertisers' perception of its audience. This tends to lead to a convergence on an audience model that advertisers believe is profitable: typically young consumers of beauty products and signs of social status. This is most commonly understood in the trajectory of women's magazines, many of which eventually re-brand to target young single women even if this wasn't their original concept, because they are the makeup advertising target market.
Given the appeal of free market and personal autonomy to geeks, choosing something that improves sales or market appeal (at least to geeks) is sometimes presented as a moral as well as economic good.
- Randal Schwartz wrote the following about the Stonehenge OSCON parties: "My target audience is the decision makers of people purchasing training. That's 95% male. And even if a third of those are offended by what I do, the other two thirds aren't, and are vocal about that. You need to pay attention to what the majority pays attention to."