Tag Archives: Pink

Two Secrets that Bring Joy to Your Product Design

Marketing to Women Starts with Great Products

Twentieth Century Fox recently released a movie about one of the most successful designers in history. The role of the designer is played by Jennifer Lawrence, no less, one of today’s hottest stars. Her sidekicks are Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper (of course!) and Isabella Rossellini. And yet I bet you don’t know this designer’s name.

It’s Joy Mangano.

She focuses on the housewares sector and sells all her products via the home shopping channels HSN and QVC. This retail format is one of few that provide consolidated, immediate feedback on customer response and business success. And, OH, what success she’s enjoyed:

  • Her first product sold over 18,000 items in 20 minutes. And to show that’s not a fluke, another of her designs sold 150,000 in six hours.She holds the record for the best-selling product in electronic retailing history—678 million sold, all told.
  • She holds the record for the best-selling product in electronic retailing history—678 million sold, all told.
  • She has been known to generate sales of $10 million in a single day—extraordinary for this format.
  • To date, over the past 23 years her designs have generated revenues of over $3 billion.

Her phenomenal success can point the way to several specific strategies that can and should blow open your design thinking and accelerate your business success.

Two Secrets that Bring Joy to Your Product Design

Joy’s most important insight is that she roots her design thinking in solving end-user problems in day-to- day life, not in seeking innovation for innovation’s sake. She looks for end users who are exasperated or annoyed by some aspect of a product with a gap between what they want and what’s available.

The second insight is that changes that seem small can have very big business impact indeed. Joy’s best-selling design, the Huggable Hanger, may seem mundane. (OK, so naming might not be her forte.) But this blockbuster product was the first to solve three closet-management problems. First, it’s velvet-flocked, so clothes don’t slip off onto the floor. Second, it’s strong but flat, unlike heavy-duty wood or plastic hangers, meaning less crowding on the closet bar. Third, the shoulder edges are rounded, so there are no poky little puckers ruining the lines of a lovely blouse or sweater. The hangers come in 19 colors, including pink. And she’s sold $678 million of them so far.

It just so happens that Joy’s category, housewares, automatically focused her on the consumers who buy most of everything—women. But women as buyers drive the brand choice in almost every category (this means you, too, auto and consumer electronics); women as end users are the research resource who best notice and articulate design problems that need solving; and women as design colleagues contribute even more than their valuable guidance as the voice of the customer.

In a nutshell, centering your research and product development around more input from women will deliver better innovation, stronger sales, greater career success and more customer love in every sector of industrial design. 

ReThinking Pink

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.