10 July 2006

Women and consumer technology [CNET News]

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Leslie Katz and Erica Ogg of CNET News wrote a long feature story with many examples on women and consumer technology. Women, they say, “have a message for gadget makers, and it’s not all about pink.”

“Out of $107.2 billion spent [in the US] on consumer-electronics technology in 2005, men accounted for 54 percent, or $57.9 billion worth, of those purchases, and women took care of 46 percent, or $49.3 billion, according to market research firm The NPD Group. That’s an 18 percent increase in spending by females compared with the previous year, when women rang up $41.9 billion in gadget purchases. Men spent about the same amount in 2004 as they did in 2005.”

“It’s increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “The idea that people go online to go shopping–that makes the computer (purchase) something of a household decision. It’s not just guys in charge of the gadgets.”

“Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century female, gadget makers are taking note. Major companies including Apple Computer, Motorola, Eastman Kodak, Sony and Nintendo are giving products like cell phones, USB flash drives and handheld game devices bursts of color and graceful lines, and featuring women prominently in ads. Some designers, meanwhile, are developing products with an exclusively female audience in mind.”

“Most of the women I know play a lot of different roles in their lives, and they’re all very important to them,” said designer Steffi Card. “They don’t use (a gadget) just for business. They need it for their personal lives, their friendships, their family, all of these things.”

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