/ Technology

It’s 2012 – why are tech advertisers excluding women?

Are technology companies missing a trick by not making enough effort to advertise to their female customers? Recent research suggests women have the biggest input when buying a new telly.

A recent study by Lady Geek and YouGov concluded that tech manufacturers could be missing out on an estimated £588m in the UK by failing to cater to women.

Lady Geek bills itself as a campaigning agency looking to change the way tech companies speak to women, and to end the simplified ‘pink it and shrink it’ approach to creating products for women.

Personally, I would hope (and I believe) that we’re way past this stage. But is that really the case? We’ve previously taken a look at gender stereotyping adverts on Which? Conversation, but we didn’t talk about tech brands.

Off the top of my head I can’t think of any tech ads that negatively stereotype women, but they might be more subtle. For example, are gadgets presented as ‘boy’s toys’? Do men appear in tech ads more often? And are tech products and services advertised more commonly in publications aimed at men?

Purchasing power = girl power

There do appear to be differences in the way men and women consume technology. When it comes to TVs, the research suggests that women rate picture and sound quality more highly than men, whereas men are more likely to prioritise technical specifications. Women are also cited as being more likely to use on-demand TV and film services.

More significantly, Lady Geek’s survey found that 79% of women now have the biggest input when buying a new TV for their household. This is apparently due to men tending to choose technology for their own use, whereas women have a greater tendency to take responsibility for what’s available to the entire family.

All interesting stuff for tech companies to consider, but I don’t think the answer is to create adverts aimed specifically at female customers.

The idea of a female-orientated ad makes me feel immediately uncomfortable. Is it even possible to do this without making patronising assumptions? Surely there doesn’t need to be any gender bias; after all, we’re all technology consumers.

In the end, we don’t need technology to be tailored to us, but there’s no reason why shouldn’t hear about it just as much as men do.

Comments
Member

I openly admit to buying ‘Stuff’ magazine, but I cringe at the way they employ semi naked six foot blonde female models to demonstrate holding an Ipod Nano or such.
Funnily enough the quality of the photography is usually very good, but entirely inappropriate to the subject.

Member

Several years ago Viz magazine did quite a good spoof on photography magazines’ propensity for such models as their test & display subjects and what it suggested. Doesn’t seem to have changed their habits.

Member
anita Burksfield says:
29 April 2012

I think its bad to leave us out of most things the only ads for women mostly cooking & deoderant and such like. I am the one in our family that choses the latest tvs, computers and smart phones; i love all the tec, why leave us out of it. I think you will find that women are more than likey to buy the top mobile phones my, daughter-in-laws have the top tec phones and computers, So why leave us out,especially now with more phones on the market than ever before!

Member

” More significantly, Lady Geek’s survey found that 79% of women now have the biggest input when buying a new TV for their household.”

Is there a link to the survey? I would hate to feel that Lady Geek chery-picked the results reported and then these are repeated as the significant finding. For instance how many families in the survey were single parent families?

I think smart phones as a technology will be far more women focussed than say computers and perhaps the survey discriminates as to areas of technology.

Member

Here’s a link to the survey. It says the survey was run amongst a ‘nationally representative sample of UK adults’.

Member

In my mind, there’s undeniable gender-bias in tech advertising. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen ‘top gift ideas for men’ in magazines populated with technology while the female equivalent is made up of shoes, makeup and sparkly things.

But is this ‘chicken and the egg’ syndrome? Are advertisers and editors simply responding to demand, or are they ultimately ‘creating’ it?

I am tired of being patronised when it comes to tech – but what is the answer? Marketers will usually target the largest segment of their customer base, and if tech-savvy women who don’t want everything in small, pink packages isn’t it, then do we just have to lump it?

Member

We are all patronised in the media, male and female, get over it

Member
anita Burksfield says:
30 April 2012

That is a a tyipical male response! “Get over it” Women now days should stand up to this kind of advertising and response. Men seem to get advertising for tec more than women why should’t we stand up for ourselves and be counted.

Member

Just to stop this in its tracks, this isn’t quite the response we expect on Which? Convo, Dean. Try and make comments that add to the debate, without the potential to offend others. Thanks.

Member

A survey of just over a thousand people reached by telephone so possibly not totally representative. These figures appear to be a set derived from YouGov’s larger survey so to a degree they are a selection of that research. What they do reveal is quite interesting. Perhaps worth exploring before making any judgements.

As for advertisers appealing to men through their gonads don’t you think that is insulting to quite a lot of.men? However it is hardwired into men that they are attracted to females, and not to pieces of plastic and metal so you can actually understand why advertisers might use the most basic of urges to grab attention of men. It does not mean we like being slaves to our instincts.!

Dave put it more succinctly. Cleaning up advertising so it was not aimed at the basic urges of males and females might be a worthwhile campaign.- if unpopular.

Member

Completely agree, dieseltaylor – sexist advertising (such as that described in the first comment by Alastair) is offensive to men as well, assuming that they are all obsessed with sex (not to mention assuming that they are all straight and have identical mainstream tastes).

I would love to see more ethical marketing – adverts that show the marketers understand the genuinely huge breadth of preference. I’d also like to see more people taking a stand against certain marketing tactics (for instance, the tactics of having ‘booth babes’ – skimpily clad women at car and tech shows). I think cleaning up advertising would be popular – with consumers at any rate, but I admit that’s based mostly on the (not very scientific) experiences of myself and my friends.