What Do Women Want From Tech Advertisers?

What do women want from tech advertisers?

We complain about pink gadgets, lame marketing campaigns, and being patronized. Don’t talk down to us, we say, don’t just dumb down your products, color it fuscia, and say it’s for girls. 
We complain when they try, we complain when they don’t try. 
Whether it’s Della or Playboy Bunny mobile phone accessories, advertisers just can’t seem to get it right. 
The obvious reason for this, is that women are incredibly diverse beings, and that we refuse to be pigeonholed or generalized, patrionized or any of the other bad things that end in “ed”.
However, this new generation of web savvy, Geek-proud Techettes is incredibly sensitive to how things, especially things that were traditionally “for the boys” are marketed to us. You don’t hear men going, “God! I can’t believe this advert! They don’t get men at all.”
Why this is, I’m not sure. Maybe in advertising and marketing, men are just easier specimens to please. (And maybe just in general?)
So – how do we want them to approach us? Do we want brands to continue to produce gadgets in pink? When is pink OK? When is brands wanting to do a campaign aimed at women OK? Or do we want something gender neutral, and for those big bad advertisers to just treat us like everybody else?
I’d be quick to say that I would like to be treated like “everybody else” – but then again, “everybody else” seems to be a 35-year-old single man with an liking for models nonchalantly holding gadgets at their side as if it’s a piece of fruit they forget they were eating. And that doesn’t really work for us, does it?
As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t do any harm if companies want to produce a pink gadget, in addition to other colors. If black, and baby pink are the only options – I get annoyed. But if I can choose from yellow, neon green, bright blue and candy apple red – I’m a happy camper. I love colorful gadgets, and I’m pleased that tech companies are on to that. 
And, despite their Della F-Up, I’m loving their new advertisting campaign they have for Mini Netbooks.
It’s colorful, clean, and is pretty gender neutral without insulting women. 
Samsung have a similar campaign going on at the moment for their N310 Netbooks, which you’ve no doubt seen on the escalators at Tottenham Court Road tube station
Samsung ImageI’m less pleased with Samsung’s adverts than Dell’s as they push the bloody “oOoOOo FASHION!” concept a little too much by having models in high fashion-esque black body suits, striking poses with the colorful N310s as if they were in the pages of Vogue instead of a sweat and Swine infested train station, hundreds of feet underground. 
(Plus, they’ve completely ripped off Target’s logo.)
Despite their obvious “we need to reach the female consumer” efforts by attempting to give the N310 a bit of catwalk-worthy edge, it still isn’t horrible. It still isn’t disgusting and pink and Hello Kitty-tastic. 
And speaking of Hello Kitty and pink, despite those of us in tech – there seem to be a large amount of women out there who love pink gadgetry. They love Hello Kitty. And they love it when phone companies want to sell them a phone AND Benefit cosmetics at the same time!
Are those of us who want things a bit more balanced and neutral (albeit perhaps a bit more colorful) in the minority? Are we fighting a losing cause?
Perhaps tech companies and advertisers will never get it right. Maybe it’s too hard to advertise to women when we are so diverse, and so polarized in what we want. 
But, in my opinion, it shouldn’t stop them from trying. 
Cate Sevilla is the founding editor of BitchBuzz.com . You can follow her on Twitter as @ CupCate .

Images via Dell & CBS Outdoor

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Good summary of the state of women's tech advertising. I was at the Girl Geek Dinner a few years back which looked at Saatchi's study into this http://www.saatchi.com/worldwide/newsdetail.asp?nid=77 (The title Lady Geeks never sat well with me though)

I agree with you on choice. I'm a bit sick of women being demonised if they actually like pink gadgets and gratuitous fashion references - hey, somebody's buying this stuff right?

I think the industry needs to segement the market further than just 'Lady Geeks' or 'Mommy bloggers' *shudder*. It took a while before advertising started to segment the youth industry for example into tweens, emos etc and not just approach them as generic young people.

The key is to asking mmore questions like the one you've raised, what different things do different women want?

Excellent post. To add a different perspective, I have an online retail store that offers consumer electronics and accessories for the self described “non-techie” woman. When I started this business, I can’t tell you how many manufacturers and distributors told me that I was crazy—that women are not interested in technology and there simply isn’t a market to support it. While I love to prove them wrong every single day, it gets to a fundamental issue that many manufacturers still don’t get it.

When I ask for products for women, I’m not asking for pink—I’m asking for the technology that gives women time back in their day, a design that recognizes the physical traits of women (example-headphones compatible with smaller ears) or products that are reflective of their lifestyle. I do carry some products in pink because it is true that some women do want these. However, when I look at my numbers, these products that are created and marketed to women are not the ones that are driving my sales.

You make a great point that we are a very diverse market, but so are men—there are techies and non techies, Gen Y to boomers. While I work with a specific segment of that market of self described “non techies”, I see a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers who actually get it. Not just in their marketing and advertising messages, but their fundamental designs as well. For example, I talked to a customer this week who has struggled to find a functional, comfortable laptop bag because she is only 5’1” and most are created for much taller consumers. There is an opportunity for manufacturers who can address some of the differences between men and women without exploiting them.

There is an amazing group of women in technology who are opening doors and bringing awareness in an unprecedented way, but, there really are some women who want their iPhone cases to be covered in crystals. I think an important thing to keep in mind as we have these discussions is to keep the dialogue directed towards the manufacturers/advertisers and not towards each other.

Great post Cate, what I think's interesting is that even this blog (WITsend) is marketed differently than all the other blogs on ComputerWeekly.com

Is it really necessary to remove the branding and give it its own look and feel, just because its a blog for women?

Hi James - the blog's not different to *all* the others on ComputerWeekly.com - it's part of a number that launched after we upgraded our platform, and basically our old template set isn't compatible! Paul Williams on Governance and Paul Wright on Metrics & Risk also use the not-yet-branded new template set. So it's not deliberate - just an accident of timing. Eventually we'll get them all back in step with a new template that works across all the blogs, old and new, but we've got some big changes happening on the main site too that are following a very tight timetable, so everything else had to go on the back-burner for a bit! Thanks, Rebecca, Deputy web editor, ComputerWeekly.com