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Summary:

The Times this week, in a story about a new line of “stylishly designed” electronics from Memorex targeted at women, asks if women are getting the gadgets they deserve. I would answer no. Women (and really everyone) deserve gadgets that are easy to use. And a […]

handbag_586215aThe Times this week, in a story about a new line of “stylishly designed” electronics from Memorex targeted at women, asks if women are getting the gadgets they deserve. I would answer no. Women (and really everyone) deserve gadgets that are easy to use. And a hot pink, handbag-shaped iPod speaker dock from Memorex wouldn’t change the fact that I have to spend hours tweaking my home network or updating my iTunes software in order to set up a music playlist for a party.

According to Kasia van Hall at Memorex, which surveyed 1,500 women, the company concluded that:

“Women want to know about technology, but only just enough to get a taste of it. Of course not all women feel alienated in the electronics market. However, the majority, even if they are up to date with technology, simple [sic] don’t have time or energy to read long instructions and play with cables.”

I think that describes more than just women. Right now, those dominating the conversation about gadgets are a unique breed of people (mostly men but women, too) who like playing with them. So the fact that they have to mess with cables, install the latest version of Java or go out and buy an adapter to get something to work isn’t a dealbreaker; for them it’s kind of fun. They’re problem-solving. I feel the same way about building model train tracks, but ask me to spend more than five or 10 minutes setting up my phone and I want to rip out my hair. I think many consumers are like me (some probably have a slightly longer attention span).

To be clear, I carry a pink BlackBerry. My 2-year-old picked it out for me, saying I should “pick this one, because it’s pink.” In the end I went with it because I don’t really care what color my phone is, and it made my daughter really happy to see me take her advice (so far I’ve ignored her recommendations on sparkly shoes and cookies for dinner.) But electronics companies that are simply slapping a coat of bubblegum-colored paint on their products are targeting people who think at the level of my toddler. She’s smart, but I’d like to think that the majority of gadget-buying women out there are smarter.

Women don’t want candy-colored gear. Like most people, they want gear that works when you pull it out of the box and continues to work, without constant updates, even when you bring a new device into the ecosystem. That’s hard for consumer electronics companies to do, so I can see why they instead hope women, who tend to buy a lot of the home electronics gear, simply view the gadget world through rose-colored glasses. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my iTunes software again.

  1. Stacey: You may be tech savvy (and your demographic skews pretty darn small), but that doesn’t describe 90% of the women i’ve met or come in contact with over the years. Most aren’t techies, and wouldn’t know to update firmware or software really without the computer prompting them to. So the color is what attracts them initially.

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    1. Stacey Higginbotham Friday, July 10, 2009

      But even if the color is pink that doesn’t change the underlying gear, or the idea that even men might like gear that’s a little less high maintenance. That’s my beef with this example of marketing to women.

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  2. carlacthompson Friday, July 10, 2009

    Hey Gadget Sleuth, most of the men I know aren’t techies either. So should we develop some camo-skinned products to appeal to them? I don’t know which women you’re talking to, but the ones I know make almost *zero* buying decisions based on color.

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  3. I agree with Stacey. I would not buy a product just because it’s pink and girly and flowery all over. There is a way to design gadgets that appeal to women, but painting them pink is just laziness and reveals a lack of imagination (it’s not the 1950s anymore!). There are companies out there that do design gadgets that appeal to women without all that pink stuff – one of them is Apple.

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  4. Stacey – you are so right. Look at Dell’s idiotic Della campaign for further marketing gender atrocities.

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  5. My name is Caro and I admit it, I’m a female.

    However, I refuse to purchase based on something as superficial as colour. Pink wont make it easier to set up, or the sound quality better! In fact, if anything, pink would put me off a product as it implies the manufacturer doesn’t have good enough attention to detail or awareness of the market demands.

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  6. No, I won’t buy a gadget just because it’s in pink. I found the incongruence between a delicate pink and some ugly masculine designs repelling! For me, I want a gadget functional/useful, easy to use and good looking. I think we all want these things regardless of gender. But Stacey is right that women are not getting what we deserve. We’ve got much less options in front us.
    Last year, we launched LA YIN (high tech fashion for women) in Stockholm, in order to take the matter in our own hands. The first collection we made was centered on USB flash memory technology. This idea came from our women panelists. The technology was mature, almost so transparent that we took its existence for granted. The designs were boring and we often lost them because they are small, insignificant. So we decided to make the USB sticks beautiful and easy to find.
    The interesting thing we learned later was Pink is not the best seller among women, and close to 40% of customers were men. Men buy them because they like the design. When a product is functional, easy to use, and beautiful, it attracts both men and women. Another interesting discovery was some women customers told me they place the USB sticks next to their jewelries. They have stronger personal emotional attachment to something that has a female soul, not just a pink skin.

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  7. [...] Women are looking for value. Games with alternative payment methods must make sure that their advertiser offers present clear value to their female users, rather than trying to use gimmicks like making everything pink. [...]

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  8. I want gadgets/equipment where the instructions don’t blind me with jargon, but explain what the product does/works with in accessible terms. I’m never that bothered about the colour.

    Thank God for youtube tutorials :-)

    AX

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