Women are your digital customers

Notes for my presentation at the O’Reilly Web 2.0 in Berlin last October:

Women represent a good half of the number of users of the web and even more on social networks.

Women make over 80% of all real world consumer purchases and according to a recent survey conducted by Mastercard run across 7 countries recently, women now shop more online than men – though they spend less. Some of the reasons for this being security issues and bad website design.

Justin Drummond notes in Brandrepublic ‘It is recognised that women, more so than men in the US and UK, are culturally encouraged to be more inclined to discuss their purchases with friends, recommending items they are pleased with and asking for advice from peers in decision-making; “they utilize the powerful marketing tool: word of mouth” (Source: http://www.alternet.org). This goes hand in hand with an expectance of openness to information about goods they wish to purchase, and makes them harder customers than men in many ways’.

The Web 1.0 online hard sell “Point-Click-Purchase” approach doesn’t always work, and given the choice women often prefer to browse, dig deep and get to understand our choices. Perhaps this is the reason for the success of sites like Etsy http://www.etsy.com/ which offer more of a shopping experience – with social networking at its core.

Social media is becoming more of an integral part of websites – and, as Business Week reports the use of social media is particularly attractive to women.

Web design and online marketing companies which are areas generally dominated by men are having to adapt to social marketing. Having more women involved with their eye for what women want can only be a good thing.

Moving on to advertising, Martha Barletta in her book ‘Marketing to Women’ comments that 91% of women say ‘advertisers don’t understand us’,and IPC Media reveals that within the ever growing market of women over 35, 36% feel that advertising aimed at them is patronising.

I must admit that I’m getting particularly fed up with the marketers and product designers assuming that the way to get me to buy some piece of tech is to make it in pink!

But there are a few glimmerings of hope with Dove, M&S and a few others having launched highly successful campaigns aimed at the older woman.

But my favourite to date has to be Harley Davidson which has added a section on its website dedicated to women motorcyclists. Women now buy 12% of all Harleys sold, and in an article in the New York Times, Jerry G. Wilke, Harley-Davidon’s vice president for customer relationships and product planning comments: “I think 12 percent is just the beginning…. The opportunities to cater to women are endless, and we will continue to do more.”

The video games industry is an area worth watching too with 40% of all gamers being women – though they represent just 12% of the industry.

This is still just the beginning though, and the money is starting to appear.
Advertising on, and traffic to, women-specific sites has increased rapidly and the big boys are starting to get in on the act:

Comcast recently bought the shopping and entertainment site DailyCandy for $125 million;
Peacock Equity and Venrock invested $5 million in BlogHer;
Yahoo created Shine http://shine.yahoo.com/ .

So where do we go from here? With the majority of internet shopping being done by women, and women also being the majority users of socical networks it’s odd that only 16% of women are involved in designing and building websites. And although roughly half of staff in advertising are women, men still monopolise the all important creative director roles which is odd considering that they are trying to influence women.

I would have thought that with these serious facts and figures behind us, now would be the right time for women to really start to make their mark.

About Janet

Hello these are words about myself
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