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Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007 at 11:00 am

That’s My Amazon Kindle, But Those Aren’t My Hands

By Holly Buchanan
December 18th, 2007

I’m not known for being a detail person. I’m not the type of woman who can tell you where we had our first date, what you were wearing, or what we ate, but I can tell you whether we had a good time. But when it comes to marketing to women, I’m starting to notice everything.

It usually starts with a feeling that something’s not right. That’s what happened when I kept seeing banner ads for Amazon’s new reading device, Kindle.

When I looked closer, I realized the problem – this is a first-person view, but those aren’t my hands. They’re very nice hands, but they’re a man’s hands. I thought I was being pretty nitpicky here, but it still bothered me that those weren’t my hands. So imagine my surprise when I went to Amazon to do a little holiday shopping and there it was: My personalized homepage with an ad for the Kindle. But this time… Those ARE my hands! (Well, not my hands, exactly, but a woman’s hands nonetheless.)

I wonder, does Amazon change the Kindle ad on your homepage based on whether your name indicates you’re a man or a woman? I don’t know. Anyone else have an Amazon homepage? Is the Kindle held by a man’s hands or a woman’s?

I was so impressed to see my own hands holding the device, I actually clicked through to read more about it. It looks pretty cool. But I had one big question: “Can you adjust the text size?” I can’t see. Really. It’s a problem. I sometimes won’t buy a book if the text size is too small, and it’s not like you can adjust the text size on a book. I didn’t end up seeing any information on the product page about adjustable text size until I scrolled way down to the bottom. Finally, I saw that, yes, you can indeed adjust text size on the Kindle.

Amazon, you’re doing a lot of things right here — (as of today, Kindles are sold out, so check back with Amazon for updates) — but if I could make one suggestion: Make the adjustable text size a main selling benefit and have it in a large, bold font. For those of us with poor eyesight, this could be the main reason for buying the gadget.

It’s sort of ironic, but the Kindle page should be a lesson to all of us. Showing benefits right away is a must, and readability matters — especially when “readability” is the main selling point for some people. Behavioral and demographic targeting is one thing, but the experience falls flat without persuasive copy.

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Comments (11)

  1. Being involved in business which sells to women, its always interested to read your posts about How to market women.


  2. So they’re leaving out all non-white people, right?

  3. Yeah, that was my question. Unfortunately, that’s all too common.

    Holly, is that Amazon’s fault, or do you shop like a white woman? And, if so, what does Amazon think white women buy? (Of course, there’s no way to give an informed answer to that, but I’m still curious to hear any theory/conjecture.)

    I suppose the bigger question is, “Were you simply glad that they showed a woman’s hands on the device, and would any woman’s hands have seemed more welcoming than a man’s?”

  4. It’s a great point. I’d love to hear from people who aren’t “white” as to how they feel about ads that don’t include them.

    The cosmetic industry still features more caucasions in their ads than any other minority, yet, and I don’t have the exact statistics, but very soon, non-caucasions will be the majority of beauty product buyers. (from a beauty industry presentation at Google)

    Can you create versions of your ads that include every single race, sex, etc.? Probably not.

    This ad stood out because it is from a “first person” view. That’s why it hit me particularly hard that it had a man’s hands.

    Is one ad that big of a deal? Probably not. But I tell you – when you see ad after ad after ad where you don’t see yourself reflected back, the cumulative effect starts to ad up.

  5. I do have a Amazon home page and my login is cookied. Kindle ads are male hands for me. Even the link you posted above.

  6. @Holly

    What a refreshingly cool observation!

    The comments of Robert Gorell and Jim Treacher also make a lot of sense. But the underlying point here is that Amazon has once again demonstrated how they are leaps ahead of other etailers. If an aspect of online behavior can be measured its been measured by Amazon. So, if Amazon shows me a mans hand on my homepage (which it does) you can bet they have statistical data that this drives conversion.

    What a great post, I’ll refer this on my site too.

  7. I am a black woman and yes, I have a heart attack when I see a non-white anything in an ad that isn’t geared towards minorities. I am a die-hard Amamzon customer and I didn’t even notice the hands. Actually, I take the white hands for granted because I have gotten used to it. I am in an graduate advertising program where I see even less minority people in the class assignment ads.

  8. It looks like it just refreshes randomly, sometimes i see the man’s hands, sometimes the women’s, although my name isn’t very easy to determine if I’m male or female from, if they bother.

  9. This looks really good. Are there any other colors ?

    My brother had the same one and it broke! :)

  10. [...] Kindle, Amazon targeted a men and women differently (recognizing logged-in site members) by showing male or female hands in the promotional [...]

  11. I have been running for some time now and I never noticed this until I came across your blog. Cookie based marketing seems to be inevitable trend.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at 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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