Why the World of Industrial Design is Failing in Marketing to Women

Women Buy Everything. So Why Aren’t You Designing for Them?

Why the World of Industrial Design is Failing in Marketing to WomenFirst of all, why should industrial design brands care about women? Women aren’t particularly “industrial” are they? Wrong.

In the US B2C world, women account for 80% of consumer spending. And they buy significantly more industrially-designed products than men. According to Michael Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group,

“Women make the decision in purchases of 94% of home furnishings… 92% of vacations… 91% of homes… 60% of automobiles… and 51% of consumer electronics.”

Please tell me you aren’t thinking something like, “Well, sure, women buy a lot of consumer goods. Isn’t that sweet?”

Women mean business, too. Women also account for about 55% of business buying decisions (Listen up, B2B!). It’s worth noting that, according to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, women comprise over half of wholesale and retail buyers (think retail inventory), purchasing agents and managers (cost of goods), administrative assistants and managers (business equipment and services), and HR employees and managers (employee benefit plans). In other words, except for real estate and new building construction, women place the purchase order. And even if she’s a recommender rather than the final decision-maker, if you don’t make her short list, you have no shot at the contract.

How to Design Products Women Love

How do we know that the world of industrial design is failing in marketing to women? In many categories, women report a continuing gap between what they want and what they’re offered. By large majorities, they feel manufacturers, marketers and designers aren’t paying attention to what they want.

Why the World of Industrial Design is Failing in Marketing to WomenIn the automotive industry, for example, a 2014 Frost & Sullivan study of car buyers revealed that globally 50% of women are dissatisfied with their vehicles, which probably explains why fully 74% say they feel misunderstood by car manufacturers. I’ve seen similarly shocking numbers from studies in other big-ticket categories, including consumer electronics, financial services and healthcare, so I’d be comfortable guessing that this pattern would hold in just about any of them.

Design firms love to say that their process is customer centric. But the marketplace is telling us that either they’re focusing on the wrong customer—at the very minimum, they’re not including the right customer—or they aren’t doing a great job figuring out what she wants. Women are different. They aren’t built like men. They have different lifestyles and roles than men. They perceive, prioritize and shop differently than men do. And as far as women can tell, designers and marketers don’t care.

Women are far more likely than men to recognize and respond to the second-tier features and improvements that all brands rely on to differentiate themselves from competitors. Women’s perceptual abilities allow them to register and retain details better than men do. Moreover, because women shop differently from men, they pay more attention to features that men—and researchers—tend to classify as unimportant.

Men are more likely to believe that little things make little difference. Women believe that little things make all the difference. In their search for the perfect answer, women seek out more options and compare their trade-offs down to the last detail.

In the world of industrial design, thousands of products are annoying millions of women every day. And for designers, that’s called opportunity. Listening to women—as end users, as buyers and as designers—is a sure and certain path to better innovation, stronger sales and greater career success.

This entry was posted in Differences between women and men, How women buy, Importance of Aesthetics, Market Research, Marketing to Women, Things women care about, Women as customers, Women in business and tagged , , , , on by .

About Marti

To The Huffington Post, she’s “the High Priestess of Marketing to Women;” to TIME magazine, “the Chief Rabbi of the Sheconomy.” Renowned business guru Tom Peters calls her “the First Lady of Marketing to Women” and says she “is one of the best presenters, male or female, I’ve ever seen.” Marti Barletta shows you how to get more customers, make more money per customer and keep customers loyal longer - simply by getting smarter about women. Her first book, Marketing to Women, is available in 19 languages,” and her latest book, PrimeTime Women, focuses in on the market’s high-spending sweet spot - Boomer women in their mid-life prime – and shows marketers how to use this prime segment’s growth, size and buying power to propel their business for the next 20 years. As the go-to authority on marketing to women, women in leadership and women’s growing role in shaping the 21st century, Barletta has been quoted on CBS, ABC, MSNBC and NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, Fast Company, TIME, Business Week, Inc., and many other publications worldwide. Ms. Barletta’s consulting clients have included Diageo, Ford, Kodak, Pfizer, Volvo Worldwide and others. A popular speaker internationally, she has enjoyed rave reviews on every continent except Antarctica, including in Australia, Chile, Dubai, Japan and Sweden. She has spoken for hundreds of companies, conferences and associations; and across dozens of industries, including consumer products, financial services, travel and tourism, retail and real estate development, to name a few. She is proud to say that numerous clients have booked her for return appearances. Her dynamic style, command of her subject and passion for her topic make her a popular speaker. Audiences love her practical tactics tailored to the interests of each audience, her lively style and sense of humor, and her memorable stories about men, women and marketing. Specialties:I show you how to attract more customers, keep them longer, and earn more money from every customer simply by getting smarter about today's mightiest market - women.

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