Painting products pink doesn’t make them practical for women

Not all women want the same thing as a 14-year-old, writes Triska Hamid.

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“Think pink”. That must be the mantra marketers and designers have in mind when creating products and services for women. The tech sector in particular is guilty of trying to target women in a patronising and hasty manner. All too often typical “boys toys” are slimmed down, painted pink and advertised using italic font in soft colours. This tactic is not only thoughtless, but offensive. Not all women want the same thing as a 14 year old girl.

"It's not a strategy, it's a knee-jerk. Few of us buy pink and glittery," said Gail Livingstone, general manager at who is unveiling the results of its most recent study on marketing for women at the ArabNet Digital Summit 2014.

But thankfully things seem to be looking up. There are now three women chief executives of global technology companies - Yahoo, IBM and HP. There are more women entrepreneurs in the tech sector across the Middle East and North Africa than in Europe. Many hope the influence of female leadership will trickle down to the end products and that can only be a good thing.

“We need more [women in technology] - and we need more troops out there defining great products,” said Ms Livingstone.

“The key is not products for women - our research shows that quite clearly. It’s no use slapping ‘for her’ on a pink version of your beard razor. We’re talking about inclusiveness - products that work for everyone, that give us all the elegance and usability we’re looking for.”

The study shows women are practical, pragmatic and comparative consumers.

“Functionality, usability, cost, value for money - these are the things fundamentally driving women consumers in technology, banking and other sectors,” said Ms Livingstone.

Women are less concerned with the look of a product and instead look for practicality according to the research.

“It’s not about creating products for women because we’re as likely to buy an iPad Mini - more so, I’d argue - than a man. So marketers need to reach out to women and sell them the core product benefits, not paint it pink and use the same old channels to push a ‘something for the little lady’ message,” said Ms Livingstone.

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