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Girls and their Gadgets: Do YOU know what women want?

Girls and their Gadgets: Do YOU know what women want? Julie Roehm
Christmas (holidays in general) are stressful. I was reading an editorial that said we should separate Christmas into the commercial/gift giving holiday and then the religious one. It struck a chord with me. I tend to prefer Thanksgiving in terms of a holiday because no one expects gifts - just food - THAT I can get into. But alas, no amount of wishing changes the fact that I still have a long list of gifts to buy.

Women, I find, are the hardest to shop for and without sounding like a brat, also tend to be the most disappointed with the gifts they receive. Women are complicated and many products "for women" out there are pretty shallow and don't seem to really "get us". So this blog is dedicated to sharing some great ideas for women but more than that it is also about getting to the insights that make truly great products. For too long, companies have used sparkles and the color pink to appeal to women. The NFL was a huge offender until about the last 2-3 years when they finally figured out that there are real football fans of the female persuasion and wearing pink logo'd material isn't the key to their heart. They also figured out that women tend to spend more on merchandise than their male counterparts so it would make sense to actually, gasp, try to understand what women really want. At last check, their merchandise sales were up, thanks in large part to their sales of women's products (not just pink T's).

And because, as a woman, I don't want to disappoint the other women on my list, I do a lot of research before shopping. I check sites, deals, blogs, etc., the usual suspects. In doing so this year, I ran across this article that spoke about The Top 5 Gadgets for women. I was waiting to see if it was written by a man suggesting bedazzled iPhone covers but was pleasantly surprised.

So first, women do NOT want this:

Women want...

1. SLEEP! Eureka! Of course we do. Women try their darndest to be the super-women the people around them want them to be. That means we tend to neglect ourselves and sleep is usually the first casualty of our quest for perfection. As women, we tend also to be practical. Most of us toss and turn a lot at night and if we could simply just eliminate the useless part of our sleep and condense the good, productive sleep, we would gain so much more to our day. So the gift suggested by the gadget blog really resonated with me and indicated a profound understanding of women.

-  "For the rest of us mere mortals, modern technology can help ensure that we exit our beds on schedule. Enter Sleeptracker: the nighttime wristwatch that monitors circadian rhythms for you. That can be a particular boon for women, since once the watch detects early morning movements, indicating that deep sleep is over, it sounds the alarm [source: Beland]."  - Ah! Smart, simple, practical and cool enough to talk about with friends and co-workers.

- The other item in this category was less to my liking but amusing enough to share. "Women who require more motivation to scurry out from under the covers might prefer to make friends with Clocky. The space-age alarm clock on wheels will roll away and hide if someone tries to hit snooze [source: Marie Claire]. Afterward, a groggy game of hide-and-seek will be the only way to silence the device."  I can't imagine bragging about how I was able to make it to the office meeting on time because I was forced to chase an electronic device around...plus I travel a lot and this does not seem like a portable solution. But - as a gag gift - I kind of like it.

2. Print On Demand: The site suggests that women want to be able to print from their purse. I tend to disagree but I can see how some women would love to be able to print out a photo and hand it to someone. Still, it seems to miss the one key insight I tend to ascribe to all women (probably men too) which is that we have so much "stuff", getting more is not a positive - particularly if it is a printout. But, I may be too harsh. Here is what they said. "At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, for instance, Lady Gaga told the press that she carries around a Polaroid 3-inch by 4-inch GL10 instant mobile printer in her purse. The printer serves as a portable photo lab, as opposed to the vintage Polaroid camera that takes pictures and automatically spits out prints [source: Sutter]."

3. Where AM I? Where Are YOU?
: This is the insight that I think is behind this idea. "At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, GPS manufacturer Garmin unveiled a palm-sized tracker with 4-week battery life that could put mothers' minds at ease while the kids are out camping or when the dog gets loose from the leash [source: Popular Mechanics]. Career women with bumper-to-bumper commutes might also appreciate the new TomTom portable GPS that can detect upcoming traffic conditions [source: Cunningham]." For me, the iPhone does a great job of getting me around. I travel every week and many times to unfamiliar locales so the Map function truly is a lifesaver. BUT, I get the fear-factor element of being able to take comfort in knowing your kids won't get lost and become headline news....did I mention that women, particularly mothers, have a HUGE capacity for imagining the worst?

4. Apple of HER Eye: Speaking of iPhone's, it seems I am not alone. "With its iPods, Macbooks and iPhones, the brand has clearly become the apple of female consumers' eyes. For instance, in the smartphone wars, Apple has emerged the victor among women, with a third of the market strongly preferring iPhones, compared to the 22.8 percent who have Androids [source: Marsal]. Although the announcement of the iPad made some women think more about their medicine cabinets than mobile computing, the demographic quickly forgave the awkward word association the product's name invoked [source: Miller]." Steve Jobs seemed to get women. Well, at least he got that design is important and women tend to pay more for better design. Plus who was ever sad to get ANYTHING from Apple?

5. Read Between the Lines: "Since women are more avid book buyers than men, perhaps it isn't surprising that e-readers are the top breakout gadgets for word-loving ladies [source: Weiner]. Nielsen data from August 2011 demonstrates a distinct gender divide among tablet-style gadgets, with women preferring to tote along their light, easy-on-the-eyes Amazon Kindles, Barnes & Noble Nooks and similar devices, while men tend to opt for the broader functionality of tablet computers like the iPad [source: Horn]. In fact, e-reader popularity has grown among women, who now make up about 61 percent of the market, a marked increase from 46 percent in 2010 [source: source: Horn]." Women, when not running around making the world a better place for those around them, love to read. While at the gym, on the train/plane, or at night before bed. It is an escape. Making the device for this pleasurable escape light, lovely and portable, is a true gift that says that you appreciate her and feel that she should take more time to do what SHE loves wherever and whenever on a smart, portable device:)

Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas but more than that, I hope that it has helped you think more thoughtfully about your customer's needs...and if she is your BFF, mother, sister, daughter or wife - I hope it causes you to spend big!

Happy shopping.

Julie Roehm is SVP Marketing, "Chief Storyteller" at SAP. Formerly, as a Marketing Strategy Consultant she served companies in all industries, of all sizes. Her client list includes, Credit Suisse, Time Inc., BIAP, Acxiom, ad agencies, and...

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