21/08/2014

By Anna Perelman, CEO, Stellé Audio


Economists predict that by 2024, the pay divide will switch and the average female will earn more than the average male for the first time. So at a time when women are increasingly earning more and have more spending power than ever before, why are some brands still finding it difficult to crack the female market?

The Underserved Consumer

Women spend over $20 trillion globally on consumer products and their influence is being felt in all industries, even those once dominated by men. When it comes to technology women have been completely overlooked but are now becoming major players. Women outspend men in consumer electronics by $14 billion and influence 90% of buying decisions . As well as increased spending power, women’s consumption of technology has boomed within recent years and they now also own more smartphones and tablets than men. Despite this appetite, women still often have to settle for ‘make-do’ products that are not fulfilling their wants and needs.

So what do women want?

A report by the Boston Consultancy group recently stated that women are dissatisfied with many products and services because “…companies misunderstand women’s issues and fail to answer their needs” . So what are those needs?

Women make decisions on purchases in a different way to men, and it’s addressing this process where many brands seem to fall short. Firstly, women are less brand loyal than men , they want the best product for their needs and seek recommendations from an influencer or friends and family. Secondly, women are much more likely to buy a product that creates an emotional connection. This is not to say that they will sacrifice form for function. They would like both. Products also have to fit in with their lifestyle i.e. the active mum or the fashion conscious 20-something. Thirdly, women have a longer list of criteria than men and ease of use is especially important to them, whilst men may be willing to go through many steps to set up a new product - think no manual required.

Many technology products are still designed by men for men, think those black plastic box systems through out the house that men will love because they sound awesome but women will hate because they don’t complement their décor. As women’s interest grows in the tech space we see their design and fashion demands increasing as they show they are not willing to compromise on style for functionality. They want it all!

What do businesses need to do?

The tech industry especially is still very male dominated with very few females in decision-making roles. Companies like Apple and Google have recently added female talent to their senior teams and it is interesting to note both have recruited from the fashion world – an industry companies can learn a lot from when designing and marketing their products, especially to women.

Companies need to think about their product design process. Previously, engineers created a concept and the technology behind it, then a designer would come in and create something to house it all in. Improvements in technology have enabled forward thinking companies to turn that process on its head. Technology leaders are starting first with the products that fit the lifestyle needs including the look and feel (exactly what a woman wants) and then engineering them to fit those demands.

Taking inspiration from the fashion industry, one of the best at understanding women, brands should think about how a woman will interact with the product. Will it offer an emotional connection? Stellé Audio designs products that look as beautiful as they sound. It’s not about designing one for men and one for women either as 90% of purchasing decisions are influenced by women. As I said earlier, women have a longer list of buying criteria, so if you satisfy these criteria, you very often satisfy the needs of the male buyer - needs they often did not even know they had.

Whilst at Stellé Audio we do invest in quality lifestyle photography, successful marketing should not just be about creating a nice, heartwarming TV campaign or magazine ad, it’s going back to the drawing board and really addressing the wants and needs of the female consumer. Products that are authentic to the female consumer and can satisfy her criteria in terms of design and functionality can only be a hit.

If predictions are correct and in the next ten years the earning power of women will exceed that of men, it will be interesting to see if the tech industry takes notice. In the meantime, we at Stellé Audio are pleased to be launching new inspirational products this Autumn.