‘Lady Geek’ Left in a Lurch

Back in June, I presented a report about kids using electronics earlier in life and with more zeal than ever before (Kids and Electronics: Putting the i in Wii). Now, after a September report by Saatchi & Saatchi, ladies, it’s your turn.

As evidenced by every trade show in the industry – most recently at IPC Midwest – the electronics manufacturing world is represented predominantly by men. So it comes as no surprise that consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers are missing the boat when it comes to connecting with “Lady Geek.” In fact, a Saatchi & Saatchi report suggests that in 2007, roughly $1.2 billion will be missed because of an insufficient focus on women.

Thirty-five percent of female Internet users polled said they’d increase spending on consumer electronics if marketers and retailers approached them better and offered more guidance for purchasing decisions, the report claims.

Remarkably, half the women who responded said they walk away from their electronics shopping excursions out of frustration – both in person and online – when they have trouble finding what they’re looking for. And a third of them do not feel comfortable asking questions, “with one respondent describing electronics retailers as reeking of a ‘strong scent of man,’” says the self-proclaimed advertising “ideas” company.

Almost one in three women said technology advertising is generally irrelevant to their needs, while the majority feel a sense of disillusionment when it comes to brand owners and retailers not understanding the female customer. In fact, many women “dread shopping for consumer electronics,” reports Saatchi & Saatchi.

An astounding 43% of women go shopping for consumer electronics without a specific product or brand in mind, the company claims.

Therein lies the problem: a lack of pre-shopping research. I doubt there would be so much anxiety at Circuit City if a plan were hatched beforehand. For large electronics purchases, I tend to visit Consumer Reports first and comparison shop online to find the best buys. Perhaps these 43% are impulse buyers. Not a window-shopper by nature, I have trouble relating.

I find it noteworthy that only 9% of respondents said it was significant for their gadgets to appear feminine. In other words, ixnay on the inkpay. We’re not buying it. We like sleek black iPods, cellphones and TVs as much as the next guy – without the bling of encrusted rhinestones.

That being said, if women don’t believe electronics are marketed for them properly, then what do they want from companies if not for the items to be “feminized?”

Planning director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Belinda Parmar, said, “Although more women than men aged 24-35 now play computer games, you wander around a computer games aisle in most shops and you’ll soon realize why women are so turned off by the way they’re approached.”

Hold the phone. More women than men play computer games? I find that very hard to believe. If that’s the case, then I’m in the minority. From what I can tell, most video games, like Parmar refers to, are geared toward technophiles with a penchant for blowing things up while tapping into their inner sniper.

I think that if women feel patronized by how they’re approached by electronics retailers, they’re not exactly referring to video games; I would tend to think they are talking about other more sophisticated items, such as laptops, but I could be wrong.

Saatchi & Saatchi says women spend, on average, about $640 annually on personal technology, amounting to a market currently worth $30 billion. Those figures seem rather significant, especially if the statistics of this report are any indication of the market potential should women feel more technologically nurtured.

Since I don’t share the sense of fear identified by this survey, I’m curious, what could the industry do to get women more involved? In what ways are we feeling left out? I suggest taking a more proactive role by knowing what you’re looking for before hitting the stores. That would help ease the anxiety when it comes time to ask questions.

1 thought on “‘Lady Geek’ Left in a Lurch

  1. Chelsey–

    Lots of truth in what you are saying. In opposition, one might say that shopping for clothes and accessories is something women understand, and most men feel frustrated with.

    One point, tho. Women do play more games. But they aren’t playing the shoot-em-up games you see at the store. They are playing online games. I know because that’s what my wife does. But again, the traditional retailers and game companies have completely missed the boat. The need is being filled elsewhere.

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