Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Truth, women and…electronics

I’ve been a critic of qualitative research for years (check out ‘research vampires’ on Google and you’ll see what I mean), but sometimes it can be a wonderful thing – when it backs up what you already know intuitively! Saatchi & Saatchi has just had some work done in the UK looking at how women fare in the world of consumer electronics, and it’s tough stuff. We’re talking cause for retailers and manufacturers to get a major reality check.

Do retailers of consumer electronics have any idea how much women dislike doing business with them? One in two women walked out of stores and abandoned websites because she couldn’t find what she was looking for! That’s right, one in every two women, and we’re talking about women who were already shopping and keen to buy. So tell me, when was retail doing so well that it could afford that sort of fall-out? Not in my lifetime, that’s for sure. In the UK, women spend just under $US650 each on personal technology a year. Our report calculated that UK tech brands and retailers stand to lose over $US1 billion in 2007 alone because they fail to connect with women.

Do retailers know how tough it is for women to get the assistance they need? One third of the women surveyed said they didn’t feel confident enough to ask questions in-store. Is that their problem? Not when the consumer is boss it isn’t. Now put this lack of confidence together with the amazing fact that nearly one in two women go electronics shopping without a specific brand in mind, and you have what Jack Reacher calls ‘a situation’. The upside of situations is that they offer huge opportunities; opportunities for retailers and manufacturers who get their act together. The combination of great products that matter plus compelling in-store and online experiences can start to show women who is in control. Hopefully when they head out to buy electronics, they head out towards a brand they find irreplaceable, or even one they find irresistible. A Lovemark.

One final thought. Please, for the next five years at least, lose the pink. Pink has become a cliché: make it pink and bingo, that’s the woman thing taken care of. Our research put another nail in the pink coffin. Only nine percent of the women involved thought it was important that electronic gadgets look feminine – and there was serious resistance to the Pink Solution. The words ‘patronised’ and ‘offended’ were used. Women want beautiful, stylish, sleek, sensual objects. Not the same-old same-old washed in pink.