Here in Silicon Valley, there's a daily buzz of who's come out with the latest tech gadget, what the cutting edge functionalities are, and how it has made consumers' lives easier with the click of a button or the tap of a screen. But in certain circles, there's an even greater buzz regarding how these products are being marketed. There's a never-ending conversation: Who's got the best viral campaign, and how has it affected sales?
It was with great interest that I read an article in The Atlantic: "Sorry, Young Man, You're Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech," which explains that despite companies' male-focused marketing efforts, women are the dominant users of a wide variety of new technologies. Women are not only big spenders (almost $20 trillion annually across the globe, according to Harvard Business Review), they're fast followers and eager adopters of technology.
In August 2012, Pew found that 27 percent of U.S. women owned tablets, compared to 24 percent of men. In July of that year, four of the top ten-grossing iPad apps were designed for women, compared to three aimed at men. Sephora CMO Julie Bronstein says: 'Today, women comprise one of the fastest growing demographics of Internet and technology users, with some 87 million women between 18 and 76 online, according to a BlogHer study. With that, women have become top mobile commerce adopters as well.'
There are several superstar marketers in the Watermark community, and I reached out to learn more about how they bring a wider perspective to the table when it comes to including messages targeted to women consumers.
As Founder & Creative Director of PixInk, Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa spends the lion's share of her time crafting marketing messages that will appeal to female consumers. "It's not hard to understand why this myth persists," she said. "Tech is about the last place where men are automatically assumed to be on top, so of course they want to hold onto their fantasy. Too bad it's just wrong."
Ayesha believes that when it comes to reaching the world's most influential consumer, 95 percent of the tech companies out there are still in denial. The "three screen woman" works well as a muse for PixInk. This woman spends time shopping on her iPad and texting friends as she watches streaming video on her TV or laptop. Part of PixInk's larger strategy for reaching her is driven by their Womanifesto -- 'make her do less' because she's using technology as a tool to make life easier.
Kat Gordon, Founder of the 3% Conference, explains that you simply cannot motivate an estrogen-driven marketplace with testosterone-driven advertising. "The rising power of women as consumers and controllers of wealth seems to get lip service from a statistical standpoint, but marketers don't connect the dots that they need to adapt to meet the needs of the market," she said. "Doing so starts with involving women in the development of new products and technologies and in the marketing of them. Yet in my field, only 3 percent of advertising creative directors are women. That means almost all messaging women see in the marketplace springs from a male sensibility."
Electronics and software companies need to start by acknowledging that it actually matters who buys their products and why. "The build-it-and-they-will-come days are gone, even for Apple. The next step is to look at the customer data and then spend some time walking in their customers' shoes. No shortcuts of just relying on big data," explains Ann Barlow, President at Peppercomm Strategic Communications.
Ultimately, brands that authentically tap into the psyche of the female consumer go further to deliver value beyond just the functional aspects of their products or services. As Ayesha concluded, "Women want to be engaged according to their life phases, not their ages. Technology marketers who want to reach a young woman need to hone in on her as a unique individual instead of a stereotype." The lesson? Show you understand her and then show her how you can create the context for her experience. In doing so, marketers will win big by earning her long-term loyalty.