When my first book, Marketing to Women, came out in 2003, one of the key principles was “don’t paint the brand pink.” I was trying to alert marketers to the risks of simplistically painting the brand pink. The practice was so common at that time that, in fact, one of my most esteemed colleagues, prolific blogger Andrea Learned, titled her book the following year, Don’t Think Pink. Both of us were trying to warn against the all-too-prevalent marketing tactic du jour: “shrink it and pink it.”
But I think we’ve moved beyond that now.
In January, I noticed another blogger friend, Kelley Skoloda, blogging on her fire engine red netbook. We had both been invited to be panelists at Kodak’s K-Zone at the Consumer Electronics Show. She said she had spent hours looking for a netbook that was not black or silver. Kelley did her research and knew what features she wanted. She found several netbooks that met her criteria. But then she decided she wanted something extra and chose her netbook because it was fire engine red. Color was not the most important feature in the netbook, and wasn’t on the original criteria list, but color turned out to be the deciding factor.
Women like aesthetics. They like color. Companies shouldn’t be surprised when women choose pink. But here’s where I qualify my new fondness for pink- it needs to be part of a package aimed at attracting women. Beware of focusing only on pink (or other pastels) as the way to attract women to a product.
Kudos to Dell, which does a great job of offering multiple colors of computers, pink included, without sacrificing product capabilities or adding a hefty price for a little color. Apple’s iPod Nano also has a rainbow of color choices that have been standard for the past few generations of iPod.
Verizon, however, seems to be missing the boat with pink, smoky violet and flamingo red as the only phone color choices. Women aren’t going to buy the pink phone just because it’s pink. It’s not what they want. Companies need to meet needs first – then add color.
The point? It’s ok to think pink. But ensure that all other factors are equal. And don’t insult women by making pink the only color choice. You won’t win women’s business by painting something pink, but you’ll win their business when pink is the deciding factor.