We are in an age where women are truly expected to do it all. Today, a “working woman” is an outdated reference, as all women work whether it be at home or in an office. If you have a career, you are still in charge of managing the family and matters of the homestead. Today, we make decisions about what products are purchased at work and at home. Somehow, many companies are still failing at how to properly market to this demographic. How do women in consumer electronics navigate around an industry where all the products are designed by men, primarily for men and the companies are dominated by men?
During CES 2013, Velodyne President and Chief Industrial Designer Marta Hall was invited to be part of a Women in CE panel discussion put on by Living in Digital Times, moderated by Women in CE Founder and Custom Retailer publisher, Carol Campbell to address these issues. Hall was in amazing company – Andrea Smith, Lifestyle Editor of Mashable, Sandra Benedetto, Director of Product Management at THX, Ltd., and Amy Millman, Founder of Springboard Enterprises. The hour-long panel covered many topics, and it was interesting to find out what technical products the panel can’t live without. Not surprisingly, most of the women rely heavily on tools to keep them organized, and connected to work and family such their iPhones (2 panelists chose this) or tablet, such as the Dell convertible tablet laptop that Millman leans on heavily. Hall, ever the artist and the designer, depends on her Wacom, which is a tablet that she can draw on which responds as though she were drawing with a pencil.
The women also discussed which were the top products and booths that were seen on the show floor. Big draws for the panel were various, from products related to the “connected home” (security, lighting, appliances) by use of apps and various devices, to the health related devices that give the public access to health information without a visit to the doctor, and Ultra HD televisions. Naturally Hall gravitated toward a 3D printer that she is excited to look into when more time permits. There were also discussions about which booths simply had their marketing strategy all wrong and were actually offensive to women, such as those who still employed “booth babes” and the hard drive company who had nude women in body paint within easy reach of ogling trade show attendees. The panelists brought to light their strategies of how to target other women with their products. Velodyne’s vFree headphones provide ample opportunity to personalize and customize which is something that appeals to women.
The panelists had a lot of insightful contributions. Benedetto brought up the need for better plans to market to women and build the business to apply to women as decision makers in the home. How did flat panel TV’s start becoming the way of the future? How did Velodyne subwoofers start moving toward “big sound in a small box”? It’s because women did not want these behemoths in their homes any longer. As Campbell said, “What products are going to come and live in her house?”Millman rounded out the conversation with a slide presentation with a variety of women-driven products that solve problems that are important to women, such as the Roomba. Yes, a robot was created to clean for women who did not have the time. Brilliant.
Smith brought up something that resonated with most of us in the audience. “Bring me something to…make my life easier.” Apps and tools to help keep our lives organized abound in our digital world. The key is keeping the apps simple. The reality is most of us only use a handful of apps on a regular basis despite the several screens of apps we have on our smart phones. Now, if there were only one master app to keep us organized, watch our children, get us where we need to go and get dinner on the table. A woman can dream…but likely, a woman will be the one to make it happen.
*This phrase is taken from a quote from Andrea Smith at the start of the panel discussion
**Full video of the panel discussion can be seen here: http://youtu.be/47k69JGqYjA