Friday, October 03, 2008

Pinking it up, does it work?

I've often asked the question as to what research has been done into what difference gender makes (or not) in terms of how we use technology - laptops, software, mobile phones, whatever. I've asked user-interaction designers, marketers, commercial folks, media owners and no-one has been able to point me to anything tangible. I suspect that the mobile network operators may have done research in this area, but they're not telling. And maybe the nice folks at What If? have done something in this area? (They happened to hold a lovely evening a couple of weeks back to celebrate the women in the mobile industry and I was invited.) Or maybe there's no need for stuff that is used equally by both genders?

Anyway, the few attempts by the handset manufacturers to appeal to women have had mixed results to say the least it seems. It feels like phones designed for women look prettier but are often dumbed down when it comes to functionality and applications. Is this just a reflection of how Western society views women anyway (i.e. they like us to be pretty but not too clever because that's scary)? Maybe I'm stretching the analogy a bit, or maybe there's more truth to the stereotype than I care to admit.

Anyway, I digress. A pal sent me a link to this article from Marketing Week talking about marketing to women and how successful 'pinking it up' is or isn't. It talks of Motorola's new Moto Jewel handset launch. which is certainly pretty, and has lots of features you may want from a phone at the sub £100 price point. And is aimed at women when mostly Motorola aims its handsets at men.

I know that putting a gadget in pink does sell product whether it's a pink kettle or a pink phone. But where is the insight into marketing a phone to women beyond making it shiny, pink or bejewelled? We probably don't necessarily need different phones (I'm very happy with my Nokia N-95 and I'm certainly tempted by the G-phone in white - neither handset is aimed at women specifically) but maybe men and women need them explained to them in different ways. Maybe changing the language is all you need rather than changing the model.

What do you think?

5 comments:

  1. Just like putting a dress on an ugly rag doll doesn't make a child want it more, putting a shiny cover on a phone doesn't make it more desirable to a woman if it isn't a good phone to begin with. Sure, we're less inclined to drool over the latest geeky features...that's why the phone targeted to girls are less fancy in that department. We like our pretty colors, but I doubt I would personally pay more for a pink/glitzy version that has the same functions.

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  2. Maybe it's a question of enough colors in an AFFORDABLE RANGE to allow people to feel they've made a personal statement buy chosing a phone.
    Not every female has a Paris Hilton/Hello Kitty aesthetic and will prefer pink...but if pink is the only game in town beside gunmetal or black, well, pink it must be.
    I think the features might be key.
    Women are usually multi-tasking, and if the studies are to be believed they (we) tend to be more focused on personal relationships, so do women go more for camera phones---to take pictures of family and friends, or music phones?
    What, in a pinch, will a woman be more willing to give up on her phone and there's your key.

    Geeky stuff is nice but if it takes an act of god to get it to work and you have to totally tune out of life to call up a particular screen most women, who aren't simply trying to tune out of algebra class, are going to find it pretty tedious to even use those features after a while.

    Quick simple and convenient are the key for this woman, and I'm not 13 so I really don't need pink to define my femininity. How about taxi yellow, or mint green? Oh, and not everyone cares for the metallic look either.
    The fascination with tech has passed the "Oooooh, metallic, robotic and future-y" stage. I'm thinking we should tend toward a more friendly aesthetic for women.
    That's my two cents on it.

    Oh,and um...ageing demographic=bigger keys that you can read without risking life and limb to do so, but older doesn't mean dead to self expression so don't just make them butt-ugly since grownups are not supposed to care anymore. We still do.

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  3. Working as I do for a famous pink financial newspaper, I can confirm that pink is definitely the way forward for attracting an elite female audience...perhaps Nokia are on to something after all??

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  4. We like your article; let's get in touch, maybe you can write for thenextwomen.com

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  5. Geeky stuff is nice but if it takes an act of god to get it to work and you have to totally tune out of life to call up a particular screen most women, who aren't simply trying to tune out of algebra class, are going to find it pretty tedious to even use those features after a while.

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