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Unlocking the Spending Power of Women in Electronics

December 2nd, 2017

Women are empowering the rise of the She-conomy with increased access to higher education and more are entering the labour force. Women are now more empowered than before and the higher spending power of women is fueling the rise of the She-conomy. Tailoring products to women mean more than just making products pink. Stereotypical gender notions where pink is for girls and blue is for boys are passé particularly as gender roles are increasingly being blurred. Female-friendly electronics are on the rise. There is no need for all electronics to be customised for females to unlock the spending power of women, but they should at least be female friendly. For women, the experience is just as important as the product. When purchasing a product, both the experience and product are equally important.

Females in higher education outpaces males in emerging markets

Over 2010-2017, absolute growth of female students in higher education will outpace the growth of male students in numerous emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil.  Female consumers in emerging markets are experiencing rapid improvement in their incomes, driven by better education, employment opportunities and changes in social attitudes towards women’s roles.  This has also created new opportunities for women of all age groups, status and lifestyles as women are now given more autonomy to plan their own lives without having to conform to societal norms. While true gender equality is still some distance off, particularly in regions such as the Middle East and Africa where female literacy is still low, increased access to educational facilities is the first step towards empowering women.

Absolute Growth in Students in Higher Education by Gender 2010-2017 bar graph. Compares the countries of China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Philippines, and Iran.

Is pink the way to go for electronics devices?

To target women, manufacturers have often taken the path of least resistance by using the “pink it and shrink it” method. There are already a plethora of pink electronics devices out in the market which range from mobile devices to peripherals to accessories. However, women will not buy a product just because it is pink. Similarly, men do not buy a product when it is blue. Consumers, regardless of their genders are becoming more discerning and the form and function of the device are more important than colour which is often only chosen after the consumer has decided to buy the product. Comparing the genders, there are some physical differences such as longer fingernails or smaller palms which will impact the way females use their devices but these are often overlooked by electronics manufacturers when designing the product.

Electronics need not be for females but should be female-friendly

Electronics manufacturers are also reluctant to launch customised products that are only targeted at women as traditionally, a large part of industry demand is driven by tech enthusiasts which primarily comprise males aged 18-35 years. These tech enthusiasts are often the determinants of the success or failure of a company’s new product launch. Marketing messages tend to be heavily centred on highlighting the technical specifications of the devices. Inevitably, manufacturers are also designing their products based on this consumer segment and alienating other consumer segments such as females and the elderly.

One such example is wearables. Early iterations of wearable devices such as the Asus ZenWatch, Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Gear had large displays and thick watch straps that do not look good on women who have relatively small wrists. As women are empowered with higher purchasing power, they are in a much better position than before and their spending power should not be overlooked by electronics manufacturers.  With the exception of electronics devices that are worn, such as earphones and wearables that would require some form of customisation to address the physical differences between genders, those that can be carried such as smartphones, cameras and laptops would only require minor tweaks for them to be female friendly. There is no need for all products to be customised as this would increase the production costs for manufacturers.

Investing in creating an immersive retail experience will also help to attract more women and even men to retail stores. Women are naturally more emotional and expressive than men. Companies that are able to sell the complete experience to females, from the moment they step into the store, are often the ones that will find more success. The experience and the product are equally important to women when making their purchasing decision.

Graphic of how to sell electronics to women: Ergonomics, functionality, user experience, fashionable, shopping experience, and after-sales service.

Rise of the She-economy will boost sales of electronics products

With women’s spending power expected to continue to rise over the forecast period, they will have more income for discretionary spending. The increase in female spending is expected to boost numerous female- driven industries such as personal accessories and beauty and personal care as women invest in looking good. Despite accounting for just 50% of the population in 2016, women already contribute 60% of consumer spending on apparel and footwear. Female-driven industries such as personal accessories are close to four fifths the size of consumer electronics in value terms and projected to continue to grow, demonstrating the untapped potential of the spending power of women. Getting women to spend on electronics will be an uphill task but will be rewarding for electronics manufacturers.

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Karissa Chua

Karissa Chua is a Consumer Electronics Analyst at Euromonitor International. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Karissa’s research interests are in covering the competitive landscape, key industry trends, impact of changing consumer behaviour on the industry and exploring the growth potential of emerging technologies.

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