Are We Ignoring Geek Women?


Pretty Women: Do We Ignore Half of Tech Consumers?

We all know half (or about half) of the world’s population is female.  Most married or involved males know that they can do anything they want to do as long as “SHE” thinks it’s OK.  Testosterone works in the boardroom but in the living room, bedroom…forget it!!!   If they are “kinda” important in our business lives, why can’t we get it right when it comes to offering products?  Maybe we just aren’t listening…

“Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”
– Vivian (Julia Roberts), Pretty Woman (1990)

IDC and Gartner recently reported 68.5M consumer PCs were sold in Q3 of this year and volumes could hit 70M in Q4. We’re well on our way to the industry’s next big goal…2B PCs WW. The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) estimates CE sales will hit $48.1 B in Q4 producing modest industry growth for the year. All in all, not bad for a lackluster year.

We’ve done a good job of profiling and targeting the early adopters. Looking at our kids list of “gotta have” stuff, they’ve nailed the teens, tweens and Gen Yers. Watching the Wii commercials with old dudes bowling, they’ve tapped into the boomers+.Problem is we’ve only given lip service to half of the global population…women, even lady geeks.

Maybe the problem is exactly as Sean Connery stated…“I like women.  I don’t understand them, but I like them.”This epiphany came to us as we tried to figure out why our 1TB home server was already half full. Turned out the files were typical of most consumers’ home system storage – digital photos, music, video clips, personal videos, etc.

Smiling But… Half of the globe’s population (women) may smile invitingly but they are far from happy about the way the PC/CE industry gives them such little attention.  They would love our products, our technology even more if we understood and listened to them.   Like it or not they can also control the buying decisions of the early adopter males.  Photo – Touchstone Pictures

Very little of it was ours !That got us to thinking…and wondering…

Fearing The Unknown

Why is the industry doing such a poor job in reaching the female segment of the market? It might be as Warren Farrell said, “The only men who aren’t in fear of women’s reactions are usually men who aren’t born or who are dead.” While most firms – manufacturers and retailers – may not fear women, only a few have really tried tapping into this half of the buying public.BestBuy has a separate team that focuses on reaching the female technology/CE consumer. Many of the camera manufacturers have introduced female-friendly devices.

Figure 1 – Home Content – Even the music industry and Tellywood are beginning to realize that the content we have at home – the stuff we really want to protect and use – isn’t their content but our own.  It’s the irreplaceable photos, videos, documents, things that make up the most of a family’s or individual’s special moments, special memories.  Source – Park Assoc

MP3 player producers are doing a decent job.The cellphone industry has done a fair job of figuring out half of their buyers are women.Notebook manufacturers seem to test the waters and then retreat to the old tried-and-true.The industry is leaving millions – if not billions – on the table by not recognizing, understanding and paying attention to “the other half” of the market.

Delivering the right information and product shouldn’t be that difficult.All we have to do is follow Vivian/Julia’s advice…“You know, you could pay me now, and break the ice.”

Understanding Them

Breaking the ice for the industry isn’t a big secret.  Lots of firms have studied the situation including ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi:

  • 35% of female internet users would increase spending on CE if the industry tried harder to reach/assist them
  • 50% of the women walk out of stores without buying anything because they can’t find what they want
  • Women don’t want to be patronized with pink stuff but rather products that are sleek, well-designed (crap maybe Jobs is onto something!)
  • In fact, 43% of women don’t set out with a specific brand or product in mind

It was also found that there are four distinct mind-sets or “shopping genes:”

  • Content responsibles – practical, loyal, efficient
  • Natural hybrids – confident, balanced, classic
  • Social catalysts – social, smart, trendy
  • Cultural artists – creative, impulsive, adventurous

So, if we can deliver the right products and the right environment/atmosphere, the industry should be able to expand its sales opportunities. Men slightly dominate the Internet.  But the difference really amounts to a rounding error.

Figure 2 – Neck & Neck – Research firms almost universally agree that while men might have a slight edge on the numbers of them that are using the internet, truth is the difference is a rounding error according to most of the analysts.  Not even worth considering.  Source – eMarketer