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TWICE/Cosmo Panel: Women Are A Key CE Demographic

LAS VEGAS – Online and brick-and-mortar retailers need to employ a special skill set to attract and sell to millennial female CE shoppers.

According to panelists on the TWICE/Cosmopolitan Digital Divas roundtable, held at International CES, here, retailers need to do market research, engage in social networking, analyze features and design, as well as hire more millennial sales women to sell CE to that key demographic.

Ways to attract millennial women, and female customers in general, were discussed in the panel headed by TWICE senior editor Lisa Johnston, with Sue Katzen, associate publisher of Cosmopolitan; Alexandra Harding, vendor management and purchasing director of Ingram Micro’s CE division; Janet Hunt, senior manager of brand and marketing services at Voxx International; and Kheri Tillman, global brand development VP, Harman.

Katzen said early on that the millennial generation has endured “a lot of disparaging critiques” and are not “entitled … lazy. On the plus side, they are one of the nicest generations of young adults ever.” Marketers have to remember that while they “have gotten awards for just showing up” as children on soccer teams and other school activities, “you have to remember how, as a group, they were raised … and that they will likely have extreme success.”

Hunt of Voxx brought up the important statistic that with CE retail purchases, “85 percent of all purchases are influenced by women,” and said that marketers must see “the opportunity and take advantage of the [women’s ] full potential.”

Hunt added that in CE, millennial women are looking for “quality, style and simplicity in products.”

Tillman, representing Harman, a longtime CE brand that sells home audio and car electronics, said, “Many [categories] have been male dominated. Yes, you can make products smaller, change the color, but you have to solve the problem of [designing for] women or they won’t buy it. For instance, we made lighter, smaller headphones that fold twice and can fit into a handbag.”

Tillman also noted that CE marketers – retailers and manufacturers – have to “understand how women get product information” and realize that women use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest far more than men, and that they influence purchases.

Retailers need to be more female friendly, especially with brick-and-mortar store design and encouraging women to shop in their stores.

Tillman noted, “Retailers need to hire more young women to sell consumer electronics. Many sales associates in stores today are young men who are not well. They need to train salespeople better and reach out to hire more women. Make the stores themselves more inviting to millennial women.”

Harding of Ingram Micro commented, “Apple has done a phenomenal job in [sales] training and how to solve customer problems. At an Apple Store it is about the experience and not necessarily about the product,” which has been a winning factor with millennial women and men alike.

Katzen noted that millennial women like brick-andmortar stores a little more than online shopping because “they want to see and play with the products … They must make smart choices when they investigate” and make CE purchases.

Harding of Ingram Micro said women are not impressed with lists of specs on packaging, but only need to explain cleanly and simply “what the product can do. That will make it easier for [millennial women] to make a product choice.”

And they do make choices, even in areas of the home you least expect them to.

Tillman said, “With ‘man caves’ we have learned that so many of those purchases have been approved by women. They influence the buying decision.”