Commentary

What women want

In a recent article, a media research director lamented the fact that “when she used to attend mobile trade shows with a male colleague, she said, ‘they showed him the cool phone and showed me the phone with a mirror.’”

This issue hits on much bigger problems I have seen with marketing to and perceptions of women as consumers.

Why is it that people, such as the person in the example above, assume that a woman would be more concerned with a mirror on a phone rather than its functionality? Why wouldn’t a woman be interested in a sleek, well design, high-tech smartphone?

The quote above is from an article about how the tides of smartphone consumption are changing. Increasingly, women are becoming serious consumers of smartphones with roughly one in three iPhone purchases made by women and 71% of wireless plan choices are made by the women in families rather than the men. These statistics should prove that women are a relevant and important segment of the population to consider while promoting high tech gadgets such as the smartphones; these purchases are no longer confined to male, work-obsessed, Crackberry addicts.

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But still, there are those who insist that marketing to women means taking a smaller version of a more powerful phone, and making it pink. Now I love pink – but it will never be the defining factor in whether I buy a phone or not. I recently purchased an HTC Tilt for the fact that it has Windows Mobile, the internet, powerful cell signal and a full keyboard. It also happens to be a sleek, comfortable phone. I assume that I chose this device for the same reasons any other person, male or female, would chose a phone. But the example above shows that there are still many who believe slapping a mirror onto the back of a perfectly good phone will make that device more appealing.

Design is important when choosing a phone, which is why the iPhone has become the smartphone of choice for a lot of people. But there are few marketing campaigns which seem to get this. A lot of the business-centered gadget marketing is directed almost exclusively to men. Show me a woman in your HDTV commercials not buying a television for her husband. Talk to me about why one laptop is better than another without showing me the “cute laptop case” available. Show me a smartly-dressed business woman using her iTouch and Blackberry. These are the images relevant to me and to many other women my age (and younger/older).

Media is changing the game now. Women are keeping up and smartphones are just the beginning. If marketers want to stay on top of competition and tap into uncharted demographics, start considering what women want too.

3 comments about "What women want".
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  1. Greg Smalter from Medelia Inc., June 23, 2008 at 9:41 a.m.

    It is for exactly this reason that Medelia Inc. created WomenCertified, a program that certifies sales and service people in the skills needed to properly communicate with their women customers. Too many sales people give women less than appropriate treatment and service, and the time to change that is now. Recommend to all the sales people and sales organizations you know that they should become WomenCertified, at www.womencertified.com.

  2. Lela Cocoros, June 23, 2008 at 12:13 p.m.

    Sorry, but I think women are their own worst enemies when it comes to stuff like this. Who buys all those supermarket tabloids, watches "The Hills" and "Gossip Girl", and talks about spa days and mani-pedis at work? As a businesswoman I have been offended by on-the-job stereotyping numerous times, but then I look around and see not just a few women in the workplace who make it a lot harder for those of us who are more serious to be taken seriously. I wouldn't buy any phone from someone who pushed the pink model with the mirror on me, and I'm all for smarter marketing, but collectively we have to do our part too and publicly support the women who deserve attention for their brains, their leadership and their creativity - not just for their looks and level of celebrity. What are we teaching our daughters?

  3. Aldo Bender from SmartSystems Media Group, June 24, 2008 at 11:54 a.m.

    You go girl!

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