There was some recent buzz about a new tablet from a company called Eurostar. This tablet was being made and marketed specifically for women, and would come pre-loaded with apps that would appeal to them. Oh, you know, like grocery shopping, perfume, and recipe apps. It’s called…wait for it…the ‘ePad Femme’. Not surprisingly, the tablet has sparked controversy over its content and presentation, being perceived as if it is talking down to women. The apparent subtext is that trying to find and download relevant apps is a task too difficult for the fairer sex.
Ostensibly, this incident is a poorly-conceived attempt to create a gender-specific product. But are gender specific gadgets worth the time and dollars of the manufacturers or consumers? Is there even sufficient data and research to show that such a niche exists? By all accounts, any attempts to build statistics around gender tech differences have led to very even or vague numbers. If anything, women are edging out men in almost all categories of online ‘early adopter’ behavior.
Thus far in the digital age, we’ve seen dozens of devices move millions of units based on unisex advertising. Apple and Samsung have become dominant forces in the consumer technology industry without the need for any kind of gender-specific marketing. Now, of course, brands and toys targeted to men or women have made tech extensions of their products with great success, but those always start with a core idea that’s gender-targeted and then tech is added is simply a layer. Our own web property Spark City World is girl-centric, but right to its very bones - when we move to retail extensions of the brand, we’re already positioned within a relevant audience. Making a colorful toaster and then shouting “Hey, Laaadiess!”, not so much.
The thing is, marketing otherwise ‘normal’ products toward a specific gender comes with a lot of risk. Not going far enough and making it indistinguishable to similar, unisex devices could render the intentions of the product moot and result in an inferior product. Go too far, and you risk offending and alienating the target sex. And this doesn’t just apply to tech (remember ‘BIC for her?’).
Take-away of the day: Spend more energy making amazing products, and spend less energy making them pink.