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Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at 10:35 am

Women Buy Electronics? No Kidding?

By Holly Buchanan
November 16th, 2007

It was one of those eye-opening moments. I was in Toronto eating dinner at a cafe by a park, people-watching (one of my favorite pastimes). I saw a guy walking his dog and some kids skateboarding, doing tricks and racking up some serious bruises. And I saw women — some alone, some walking in pairs.Here’s what struck me: Every single woman was on the phone or texting on her BlackBerry. Every single one. Most of the guys were gadget-free. This seemed pretty funny to me since so many consumer electronics marketing efforts remain geared toward men.

Women are an extremely important market for consumer electronics. There is a huge opportunity here, especially since, according to one study in the UK, electronic retailers are doing such a poor job of understanding and reaching out to this market. Here’s what study has to say:

Thirty-five per cent of female internet users polled said they would increase their spending on consumer electronics if marketers and retailers thought harder about how they approach them and offered more guidance in stores and on e-commerce sites.

A staggering one in two women said they walk out of shops and leave websites without buying anything because they’re unable to find what they want, representing a huge opportunity for brand owners and retailers who are prepared to rethink their approach.

One third of women do not feel confident enough to ask questions in stores with one respondent describing electronics retailers as reeking of a “strong scent of man”.

Almost one in three women do not consider technology advertising relevant to them and the majority of women feel disillusioned that brand owners and retailers don’t understand what they care about and don’t view them as a relevant group of customers.

Ouch! That’s pretty harsh. But if you sell consumer electronics, and you have a website, this could be really good news. More and more women are researching products online before they buy — online or offline. So answer her questions on your website. Help her find the products that best meet her individual needs. Lose the techno-jargon and speak in plain English.

Here’s a great example of a big screen TV guide. See how the copy explains more than just features and benefits; it provides useful information to help her decide which type of TV would be best for her.

First, decide if you want the TV to be on a table, on the floor or on the wall. The advantage of LCD TVs is that they age very well. They rely on a light bulb that can be replaced after it burns out, which usually happens at the five-year mark.

LCD TVs also are very easy on the environment. They draw little power, and their production generates little in the way of hazardous materials. The disadvantage of LCD TVs is that they are relatively expensive and don’t get much larger than 30 inches. Also, demand for these things has been so strong lately that they actually have been creeping up in price because manufacturers can’t make enough of them.

That’s where plasma TVs pick up. Their displays are typically between 40 and 60 inches, and that is their main advantage over LCDs. Like everything else, plasma displays wear out. Under heavy use, you’ll get about three years out of a plasma display before you notice severe fading. If you leave a plasma display on all the time, it might actually degrade to a point at which it is nearly useless. What wears out is the panel itself — kind of like how a fluorescent bulb wears out — and there is nothing to do but discard it. Fortunately, they too are relatively environmentally friendly.

This is the kind of honest, transparent guidance she’s looking for. She cares about the placement of the TV, how long it will last, and, yes, women care about environmentally friendly products.

Would men also appreciate this kind of plain-spoken advice? Sure they would.

Does your website provide helpful guidance? Are you helping her to figure out which product is best for her? Or are you just listing features and product specs?

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Comments (5)

  1. Holly, I have to disagree with your assertion that the problem with technology marketing to women is techno-jargon heavy product descriptions… though I believe that both men and women could benefit from the kind of product description you reference above.

    However, I do believe that retailers’ television ads like these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUgucpBa1Kk&NR=1

    … that almost exclusively feature and target men certainly aren’t earning them any favor from me and I’m sure, other women. I don’t remember these type of electronics ads around Mother’s Day, do you?

    I’d love to see an ad featuring an electronics-savvy woman, or even an ad with a woman helping another woman in an electronics store. Maybe then they could start to shake this men’s club reputation…

  2. One problem is right there in the store…if I see a “young Turk” coming at me to make a commission sale, while treating me like an idiot (!), I turn around & walk the other way. The men’s club reputation comes from reality, unfortunately.

  3. Hi

    Interesting post. Picked this up because our website support section has just been working with a group of local electrical shops in the UK. Your points and those made by Saatchi and Saatchi are valid, although we pursued a slightly different solution.

    A great deal of effort was spent making web pages and literature easier for women to identify with. Literally just images of them instead of all men and greater reference to the items for sale having a role for them, as well as in the family or home. Equally, a couple of images of women serving and advising customers in the shops were added. The spending power and underspending of women on technology items needs addressing and so far, this approach has certainly helped. Combining this with more of the type of information content you highlighted would be a great idea.

  4. This concerns me: “A great deal of effort was spent making web pages and literature easier for women to identify with. Literally just images of them instead of all men and greater reference to the items for sale having a role for them, as well as in the family or home. Equally, a couple of images of women serving and advising customers in the shops were added.”

    Was anything actually done in the stores? Are there women service people? Is it, in fact, easier for women to shop in those stores?

    The way the comment from Help Desk reads, I’m concerned that – once again – a company has confused images with substance (just paint it pink and put some fuzzy-wuzzy huggy-wuggy language on the web site. Oh, and all women love kids so put some of those on there too.”)

  5. [...] getting at. The fact is that women initiate more than 75% of consumer electronic purchases yet one in three women believe that advertising for these products is not relevant to them: Almost one in three women do [...]

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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