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Tech Moves Beyond The Gender Divide (Finally)

The following is an excerpt from the latest installment of TWICE’s Executive Retail Roundtable, in which we gather some of the best and the brightest in tech retail to address the state of the industry. Join us for a deep dive into the challenges facing the retail business today:

TWICE: What more should vendors and retailers be doing to reach female customers and not scare them off?
Mary Campbell, marketing VP, D&H Distributing: Educate the men better.

Steven Baker, VP, industry analyst, The NPD Group: You’re right, but I would actually say educate everybody better. The problems that women have are the same problems that mainstream consumers have. Yeah, I think educate everybody better.

Neal Martinelli, merchandising VP, HSN: I think every day about the female shopper, but at the heart of it is educating everyone. “This thing solves a problem” — if you talk in that context, it’s universal in its appeal. It’s not off-putting. It’s not tech-and-spec. It’s not scary.

You have to ask yourself as a retailer, “What am I selling, why am I selling it, and what story can I tell about this product?” I think that is very appealing to women as well as to men.

Laura Orvidas, CE VP, Amazon: I would agree that is the primary component.

There is also the secondary component of design, and not to say that every woman or every man does or does not care about design, but I do think that women are generally in charge of decorating their homes. And if the consumer electronics item doesn’t fit into that aesthetic it’s a harder sell than if it looks nice.

If you look at a router, it’s a horrible device! Everyone sticks it in a closet, which is why it doesn’t work.

Now these devices are looking better and people are comfortable having them out on their countertops. If these items are becoming countertop items or things that we want around the home, they should have a look and feel that is appropriate.

The TWICE Executive Retail Roundtable. Standing from left: Alan Wolf, TWICE; Neal Martinelli, HSN; Mary Campbell, D&H Distributing; Dave Workman, ProSource; Fred Towns, New Age Electronics; Dene Rogers, RadioShack. Seated from left: Tom Hickman, Nationwide; Laura Orvidas, Amazon; Ryan Ciovacco, Sears Holdings; Steve Baker, The NPD Group

Dave Workman, president/CEO, ProSource: A lot of the gender bias that we have had in the industry goes away with each generation. My mom, for example, could barely turn the TV on. The cellphone brought the need for both genders to be equally adept at running technology.

With the kids coming up now, I don’t think there is any difference in their application and use of technology by gender. It has become ubiquitous.

The other part of it is a lot of the bias that came with consumer electronics and the male shopping experience had to do with old-style retail. Today you are fully empowered with reviews and everything else. I think it is more gender neutral moving forward.

Campbell: It used to be an aesthetics issue because everything was black.

Workman: If you think about headphones, women are as big a market as men are. There are still certain categories that are more appealing to the male population, but when you talk about the CE business, it sells to everybody.

Campbell: It’s the uniqueness and the personalization as well. That is what the next generation wants. They don’t want to just be mainstream. It was aesthetics for females, but to your point, it crosses everybody.

Orvidas: When my daughter, who is 18 months old, wants to hear music, she goes, “Echo, Echo, Echo” to turn on the music. It will be interesting to see as future generations interact with technology in a much different way because it will be so simple.

See the rest of the TWICE Retail Roundtable:

How Alexa And Home Networking Are Stirring Up The Smart Home

Just How Good Were Holiday Sales At Retail?

Tech Trumps President’s Policies

At RadioShack, Profits Are The Prime Directive

Through The Looking Glass With VR/AR

Whither Wearables; What Lies Ahead