Changing the product

By Published on .

If consumer-electronics retail stores are the used-car lots of technology, then the manufacturing plants are old-school Detroit men's clubs. Electronic products are generally conceived by mostly male engineers who build things because they can, not because they want them to be user-friendly. And that's a barrier for both women and men in the consumer electronics world. "The same issues that women have with electronics products, most men have,too," said Steve Baker, analyst at NPD Group.

Women, however, might just be the tipping point, as they tend to be "vigilante consumers," said Jen Drechsler of Just Ask a Woman; that is, while men also become frustrated, women will stand up and say "We've had it and we're not going to take it anymore."

Manufacturers are taking notice. Products like digital cameras initially lured women, the traditional photo takers and keepers in a household, but new categories of well-designed products like flat panel TVs and small audio speakers are keeping their interest. "We feel strongly about this market and we'll continue to focus on women in different ways," said Tony Flavia, senior product manager for Sharp Electronics flat panel TVs. Sharp, a pioneer in LCD technology, designed its original line of Aquos flat TVs "with women in mind, because we knew they would be very involved in that decision making," he said. They continue to expand on the design element by offering different colors, textures and forms.

Sharp is not alone. Recent advertising from TV makers like Panasonic, Philips, and Sony include photos of women or families gathered around the sleek and design-friendly boxes, rather than formerly standard ads featuring sports and men.

Most Popular
In this article: