The much-lampooned Bic pen for women and Molson-Coors' Animée wine-flavoured beer are two of the more high-profile examples of a trend toward designing products specifically for women.

But as marketers for those two products are finding out, it's not always a successful strategy.

Companies are increasingly tailoring their advertising toward making consumers feel that new products are specifically designed for them, known as "micro-segmentation."

"People feel that customization," marketing expert Jacquelyn Cyr of Keen Collective Inc. says. "It also has a premium feel."

Risks involved

Research suggests people respond better to a product's pitch if they think it is ideally crafted to their needs. When it's done successfully, a product such as Lego sees its sales reinvigorated with a new line of pink pieces and doe-eyed female figurines.

Lego's move was criticized by people who accused the toymaker of playing to gender stereotypes, but there's no denying the resulting sales bounce.

Other companies spend freely on time and effort to bring targeted products to market, only to see a negative reaction from consumers.

"That's years of product development and tons of money and research down the toilet," Cyr says. "That's not an ideal situation to be in."

Click the player above to watch the CBC's Aaron Saltzman report or click here to watch video in a new window.