By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — Manufacturers can’t just make a CE device pink and expect it to automatically resonate with female consumers.
A trio of panels, hosted by Techlicious during CE Week, here, offered market research, retailer perspective and buying advice, all under the umbrella of better understanding women consumers.
As Holly Pavlika, strategy senior VP at social-media shopping company Collective Bias, noted, “We’re one of the most studied groups out there on the Internet.”
In keeping with that theme, Tara Hutton, marketing research director for the Consumer Electronics Association, was able to provide buying habit statistics based on gender. Eight in 10 women consider themselves to be interested in technology, Hutton said, with 41 percent of those women saying they are very interested.
Seventy-four percent of U.S. adult women spent something on CE in 2012, she said, with the average total amount around $540. Men, however, did spend more; the same study found the average total amount for U.S. adult males was between $800 and $900.
The products that topped women’s purchase lists were, in order, smartphones, tablets, laptops, HDTVs, digital cameras and headphones, according to Hutton.
Not surprisingly, retailers are taking notice of women’s buying power, although the best way to capitalize on this is still in flux. Said Brian Siegel, Sony Electronics retail VP: “That’s been a journey we’ve been on a long time.”
Siegel said Sony’s female customers are more hands-on than the male customers, and that they are more likely to want to touch and feel the products. To react to this, Sony has tinkered with its sales floor design and learned from the way its women shoppers use the in-store tablets. “Females want to [shop] at their own pace as opposed to have our customer-service people talk them though it,” he said.
What both online and brick-and-mortar female shoppers have in common is that they are more likely than men to turn to friends and family for buying advice. In a similar vein, authenticity is also extremely important to both shopping channels.
Online shoppers typically turn to women who are in similar living situations, several of the panelists said. “People are asking friends and family first,” said Kirsten Chase, co-founder and CEO of online review sites Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech. “We’re finding some of the larger consumer review sites that have been popular in the past aren’t as popular as they are now.”
Likewise, Siegel said the in-store shopping experience needs to be genuine. “We need to make sure our sales people look like our guests as well. They have similar types of interests [and] they come from the same types of communities, because it is genuine.” Siegel later said, however, that it didn’t appear to matter to Sony’s female consumers whether the salespeople were men or women.
What else is significant to women? Style. “We like pretty things,” said Chase. “It doesn’t need to be pink. People like other colors … Something other than black. White is great … We rotate the cases based on the season. It’s important.”
When female consumers ranked product importance, Hutton said, price was “huge” but “quality and price are nearly equal. Quality was emphasized more with woman than men.”
A second panel examined the role of social media in consumer shopping, while a third offered holiday buying advice for Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers and Generation Y-ers.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.