Here’s a secret about new technology: Women are less likely to use it.
Repeated studies show that early adopters of devices such as tablet computers or smart phones skew male. 65% of iPad users are men, according to Nielsen. 73% of Android phone users are male, says AdMob. Even the iPhone and iPod Touch, devices that have been around for years, still have 54%-58% male users vs. female. The trend holds abroad; London-based Rabbit agency’s Dirk Singer notes only 5% of women told a UK study they would consider a Droid phone as their next mobile purchase vs. 11.4% of men.
Why is this important? Women direct about 85% of all product purchases in the United States, including 65% of new car sales, 80% of healthcare decisions, and a whopping 91% of new home sales. Their buying power is expected to increase in the next decade as Boomers age and men, with their weaker life spans, die off sooner; Fleishman-Hillard estimates women will soon control two-thirds of wealth in the United States.
Marketers enamored with the newest technology might pause and rethink their media strategies. Creative director Stephanie Holland has suggested that the majority of women “feel misunderstood” by healthcare, automotive, investment and other marketers. Are your channels in sync with the female consumers likely driving your sales?
Image: Pranav Singh
The Sci Fi cable channel made the news last week by announcing it would change its name on July 7 to Syfy, an obscure new brand that outraged some Star Trek enthusiasts. We found it no coincidence that the cable network timed the news to the upfront, where advertisers make major financial commitments for the coming year.
What’s up? Women are resurgent as an advertising force. Consider that women’s web sites were one of the fastest growing categories in 2008, with 46% more visitors (only slightly behind job-search sites). Slate.com is spinning off its popular XX Factor blog into a woman-specific site. Kristi Faulkner, founder of the WomenKind marcom firm, told DM News “Women are hungry for something that is respectful and dignified.”
And of course it helps that advertising dollars are behind this. In a down economy where men are paring back on big screen TVs and lawn equipment, women still run the household — and most other spending. In the United States women account for 80% of discretionary spending including buying 90% of food, 55% of gadgets, and — yes, boys — most new cars.
Sci Fi is broadening its brand to include supernatural and paranormal entertainment, topics more likely to appeal to women and to attract the marketers who chase them. There could be a lesson here for your own brand.
This holiday weekend think about sex, food and shelter. We know you will, because Angela Natividad points out today’s advertisements have not really migrated far from the sexist assumptions of the 1950s. Women’s magazines, for example, remain filled with food ads showing women how to cut meat, bake pies and sneak snacks — especially if their husbands leave them unsatisfied.
Which makes us wonder: In an efficient marketplace, advertisers will choose messages that generate the highest response. The women and men who respond to food and sex messaging are thus, well, responding in quantities high enough to keep this stuff coming. So do we still fall into the same old homemaker / sex-seeker roles?
In the millions of years of human evolution, the Western culture shifts of the 1960s to 2000s are a small aberration. Beneath our new, open, fair-minded facades, maybe we still want the same thing. Something hot from the kitchen.
A while back Nielsen//Net Ratings asked the obvious question: Women, if you were planning an advertising campaign to reach someone like you, which media would you use?
The favorite ad channels from women, for women, were internet (63% said they would definitely use this) and television (41% said definite). Other media scored lower: only 29% said they would definitely use radio; 24% newspapers; 21% magazines. This contradicts other research that shows women are heavy readers of glossy mags, and the survey instrument removed more than half the respondents who didn’t use computers at work — skewed the results, dontchathink? Still, score one for Internet.