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Strategy, Transformation

Tech Just for Her: Does Gendered Marketing Work in Tech?

POSTED BY: Therese Daves on 04/16/19 gendered marketing

Inclusivity. A big trend hitting retail over the past year. Gender neutrality and gender fluidity are permeating product offerings and retail displays. But at the same exact time, another contradictory trend is impacting the retail space – particularly in the consumer electronics sector. And that trend is gendered marketing.

New brands are cropping up left and right that market women-focused products. Tech-enabled purses and a slew of feminine tech accessories– exclusively feminine tech offerings are saturating the market today.

So how do we reconcile these apparently, contradicting trends? In a world where women are fighting for equality, are these gendered electronics appropriate, or uncomfortably retro in mindset?

Pink is not the answer

Think back to the days of insanely gendered advertising. Televisions for men, vacuums and crockpots just for women and a pink telephone marketed as “a princess phone for the homemaker with an eye to the niceties of interior décor.” It was a time of provincial promotions. But gone are the days where marketing can be sexist and successful (and if you want to laugh and groan, take a look at these unnecessary gendered marketing fails).

More than perhaps any other category, the tech and consumer electronics industry skews particularly masculine – a problem which has been a hot-button topic for the past few years. But solving this problem will take more than just pink labeling.

Today, brands can’t just slap a pink label on a product or add flowers to the design and say it’s geared towards women. Click To TweetAs Bloomberg points out, “Pink is not a strategy. When a product is offered in only one color, and that color is pink, it sends the message, we haven’t put any thought into this at all.”

As a result, this type of gendered marketing – specifically in tech – has to be more strategic, and it starts with recognizing women’s unique needs and shopping habits.

Talk directly to women and they’ll listen

One way to do this is smart, creative partnerships.

Consider Neiman Marcus. The department store recently partnered with UK-based tech accessories retailer Soda Says to create in-store displays of tech products for women. Founder Grace Gould “got the idea for Soda Says after working in the technology industry and noticing that most products were made by men for men, with a lack of innovative items that women could relate to.”

These display areas, that look and feel like in-store pop-ups, don’t scream “women” at all. They’re colorful and fun, but not overly pink. Tech-driven, but not overly so. Creating a section in the department store near the women’s clothing is a strategic way to say to consumers, “here are more products for you to explore.”

It’s chicken and egg. Do women not actively shop for tech products because they’re not interested or because they are not marketed to? (We could go on about how for years super hero movies refused to feature a female lead but Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel blew that theory out of the water – and the box office!) If tech products are easily accessible and speak to the consumer, they become more appealing.

It’s not as simple as installing a section that screams “Tech for Her.” It’s much more thoughtful and requires smart, solutions-focused strategies.

Solution-driven displays

In many ways, this new realm of women-focused tech products aren’t tech products at all. They’re tech-based lifestyle solutions designed for women-specific challenges. So, when it comes to marketing these products in-store, the displays have to answer one key question first and foremost: What problems or pain-points do these products solve?

In general, the industry is shifting in such a way that tech is enhancing every category. Tech products – specifically women’s lifestyle ones – should not be defined solely by their innovation. The world is littered (literally) with female gender specific products that were marketed as cool but failed to address a true need. Gendered marketing can just bring more clutter. Solutions are more important – and that’s how these products should be organized and marketed in-store.

Instead of a general female section, break things up strategically.One of the standouts of CES 2018 was state-of-the-art breast pumps that give moms freedom and flexibility. Talk about solving a problem for the modern woman. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, there are 74 million women in the nation’s labor force, representing almost 47% of total civilian workers. Would a store consider displaying this pump in their career clothes section? What about with undergarments? Athletic wear? Today’s adult woman is multi-faceted and wants tools that enable her to be both maternal and powerful – it’s not an either-or choice.

This year’s CES introduced a line of smart jewelry, called InvisaWear. These accessories have buttons that contact 911 in the case of an emergency or danger (something women experience more frequently than men). A slew of other safety-enabling products also exist. At first glance, these products would be great near check-out as an impulse or gift purchase. But also think about them with athletic wear for the early morning runner or with cosmetics where sweat resistant make-up is having a big run? How about with evening bags? And what about within a travel display where you feature clothes that pack well. For women traveling alone, safety is a major concern.

At the end of the day, while the trend of gendered tech products initially cast a caution flag, in reality it represents a movement toward greater equality and eliminating barriers. As brands research, strategize and execute products that truly enhance and empower women’s lives, the gender gap starts to close. And with smart in-store displays, retailers can make a true impact.

Want to empower women with female gender specific product displays?  Reach out to Michael or Chris at Medallion Retail at engage@medallionretail.com.

Is there a female gender specific product solution that you are loving? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below!

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