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Merlin Report Final 050708


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How to persuade women to become customers of an electronics retailer (in cooperation with Triagonal Design)

How to persuade women to become customers of an electronics retailer (in cooperation with Triagonal Design)

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  • 1. The Buying Experience: General Process and Goals Robert Jacobson, Ph.D. Senior Consultant Gemba Innovation © May 2008 Introduction Every Buying Experience comprises three elements: 1. Company themes 2. The touchpoints where a company and customer connect 3. A score or composition of touchpoints Another name for the Buying Experience is a customer experience map, or brand management plan. The concept is the same. Touchpoints. After identifying each occurrence, situation, and location where a company and its customers connect (also its investors, suppliers, regulators, and other stakeholders), designers can sit down and using different media of communication and other social tools, adjust the network of touchpoints to engender certain experiences and actions on the part of the “experiencers.” Merlin’s Buying Experience, for example, is built around experiences had within a physical store or in Merlin’s online boutique. Other touchpoints include talking on the phone with a Merlin service representative, reading an account in the paper describing an event involving Merlin, or when a customer uses a PC purchased at Merlin. The PC is a touchpoint connecting Merlin and the customer. If it functions well, it contributes to the customers’ high regard for Merlin. If the PC ceases to function, regardless of the manufacturer’s response, Merlin must have in place mechanisms to correct the situation or the touchpoint will go “bad.” Other touchpoints include listening to the radio, watching TV or cable, a billboard seen, a rumor, public ceremonies, sharing the product or service with someone, and so forth. In fact, touchpoints are so prolific, the problem is not to find them, but rather to know which one’s to work with and which not. Scores. Composing touchpoint scores is still an art form akin to playing an organ, though its adherents are growing in number. We call them designers of experience. To be successful in this line of work, they must have a high regard for social behavior, the ability to extrapolate futures from current conditions, and
  • 2. an understanding of how others perceive, consider, emote, and finally act with regard for their experiences. Coming from a design orientation, we call these individuals designers of experience. Designers of Experience. The designer of experience’s job is to coordinate the touchpoints – gossip mills, online blogs, broadcast TV advertising, planes towing banners, riding a mountain bike, listening to a radio account, climbing a mountain – to leave the customer with an impression that Company would like him or her to remember and act on, now or in the future. This is an imprecise science. In any situation, themes and touchpoints are many. Since the customer can mix and match touchpoints and meanings (even unintentionally); and because the score can be interrupted or disturbed by “noise” in the phenomenal environment – the customer’s momentary gestalt, his or her Buying Experience, may differ from what the designer of experience intended. This is true of conventional marketing, too, however. There is no absolute certainty when dealing with human beings Although our tools for designing experiences are still primitive, it is possible to imagine a future when the company or the customer can turn on or turn off the machinery of experience. But the overall Buying Experience will remain, because it does not rely on technology but is created of human perception, cognition, memory, anticipation, and action, loops of meaning continuously recycling. Merlin’s Buying Experience Trend Analysis. With it’s most recent sale, Merlin recovered financial stability. It now has an opportunity to craft a Buying Experience that resonates with its customers precisely as it desires. The process for doing this is fairly straightforward. 1. Collect information that describes the company and its environment: local, global, or both. These are its coordinates. 2. Identify and describe trends in the larger world that bear on the company based on its coordinates. 3. Divide individual and small groups of trends into clusters that we shall call meta-trends. 4. Using the meta-trends, brainstorm all of the ways that a company can be affected by these meta-trends. (Scenario Planning. At this point, we have the option of creating scenarios against which we can test our assumptions regarding the company’s future performance. We can select an optimal path into the future using business wayfinding techniques and also describe paths that may not be optimal but which
  • 3. are more likely. By the time the exercise is over, weeks or months later, we are prepared for every contingency and operating as a team – which are the two essential purposes of scenario planning.) Let’s continue on without engaging in scenario planning at this time, though we likely will return. Theme Creation. This time we use the meta-trends for another purpose, to choose themes that describe the company as it wishes to be in the future, keeping in mind the environmental conditions described by the trends. The themes are its corporate “marching orders.” Themes can be as broad in Merlin’s case as “the leading retail high-tech vendor in Northern Europe” (or “the world”) or as narrow as “the most woman-friendly retailer in Denmark” or some entirely different category of aspiration (“a good corporate citizen” or “ecological by design”). These are reputational markers. If customers then report on being asked that Merlin is the leading retail high-tech vendor in Northern Europe, it tells us that the Buying Experience we have crafted for Merlin, based upon that theme, is soundly constructed. If that isn’t what customers tell us, then after listening to what they do tell us, we may be able to fix that aspect of the Buying Experience that isn’t producing the correct impression. Perhaps service needs improvement or dealing with a certain supplier is dragging the company down. If we have available a previously researched, baseline Buying Experience – an inventory of how people feel about the company on different dimensions – we can compare what changes have taken place and attempt to alter the overall gestalt. One of the unintended consequences of this type of design is that it transformational; that is changes may occur in the customer, but they also occur within Merlin. It may become more sensitive to its customers’ needs; or it may become philanthropic, eco-sensitive, or greatly concerned with quality. Individual human beings can set these processes in motion, but often they occur serendipitously, the company mirroring the changes it is promoting in its customers via its Buying Experience. * * * Before it can set about designing its Buying Experience, however, Merlin has a serious problem to resolve. How to entice more women and girls to become customers more than just one time? It’s a difficult goal that few retailers have attained. If Merlin can find a way to attract and keep female customers, it can vastly increase its customer base, its sales, and its ability to influence the business environment, a key to industry
  • 4. dominance and economic success.
  • 5. Merlin: Innovating to Acquire and Retain Women and Girls as ITC Retail Customers A Report to Merlin by Gemba Innovation Robert Jacobson, Ph.D., Senior Consultant May 2008 Introduction and Mission Statement Merlin management wants more women and girls as customers. This correct goal sounds simple. But it’s not. Many computer and high- tech retailers have tried to get women and girls onboard as regular, loyal customers; few have succeeded. This report discusses the the trends that led to this conundrum, describes efforts by companies to escape it, and concludes with recommendations for innovations and innovative methods that Merlin can use to breaking out of the ITC1 industry’s cultural trap ahead of its competitors. Women and girls comprise a majority of computer, cellphone, and high-tech entertainment users; clearly they are buying, or getting others to buy for them, these products and services. But since no vendor has crafted a reliable strategy for attracting and keeping women and girls as customers, they tend to buy in ad hoc fashion, responding to the environment and situation in which a purchasing decision has to be made: a physical store or online store. 1 ITC stands for “Information Technology and Communication.”
  • 6. In short, women and girls go where they know products and services are on sale and, holding their noses, do what they must to acquire the things they need. Any store will do because they collectively fail to speak to women and girls. This behavior leaves retailers and the manufacturers who supply them scratching their heads. Merlin is right to address this question, even if a strategy isn’t there for the taking from a computer/high-tech supplier or competitor. The numbers of women and girls who use computers and gear – and in the case of cellphones, services – is skyrocketing, in Denmark as it is around the world. If it can reach women and girls as its competitors have not, it will have access to purchasing power that the typical male-biased retailer does not. If in so doing it transforms itself internally to become more “female friendly,” Merlin may have another competitive advantage: with women and girls as its informants, Merlin may be able to more quickly and accurately detect and market new uses for products and services across all customer segments, because women and girls are sure innovators. Most retail computer and high-tech users favor social applications of technology over technical applications, but women and girls excel in this regard. But not all social applications pass muster. Although the videogaming industry regularly trots out female exceptions to the rule, in fact women and girls do not gravitate to highly competitive, sexual, or violent videogames. Similarly, they may use office technology on the job or in school, but women and girls tend not to be major fans at home of technical software (like spreadsheets and project
  • 7. management tools). These male-oriented products take a distant second place to tools for socializing and network-building, like photo software, cellphone services that support rather than defeat communication (as do the many services pitched at “18-34 year-old males,” a minority among cellphone users). This situation is indicative of the trap in which Merlin and other computer and high-tech retailers are held captive: products and services created by manufacturers and service providers overwhelmingly staffed and led by men embody male behaviors and perspectives. In fact, the entire computer industry is seen by most women and girls as hostile; even alien. (The mobile industry is a little different, as its basic commodity – ease of communication – plays directly to the No. 1 capacity sought after by women and girls: the ability to socialize. More on this later.) Merlin thus faces several challenges as it prepares to address the female segment of its existing and future customer base. • First, Merlin must deal with its own corporate persona and how it currently speaks to women and girls – or doesn’t. • Second, it must contend with the retro attitudes expressed by manufacturers, suppliers, and other competitors in the products and services they produce and dispense; and the way they sell them. (Admittedly, change is in the air, but so far efforts in this direction have been token and often counterproductive.)
  • 8. • Third, it must replace the focus on technology historically associated with the sale of technology with a concern for the uses of technology, and in particular how women and girls use technology – or would, if it served their needs. • Lastly, Merlin may wish to reexamine its core business: is it selling stuff or enabling lifestyles? Merlin’s current slogan, “A magic world of low prices,” is ambiguous at best and irrelevant. For most women and many girls, daily life isn’t about magic. (Maybe magic in the sense of love for partner, children, friends, and community.) Daily life is about getting things done: running a household, raising children, and keeping in touch with valued communities of family and friends. Price is important, but not all determining. Communication is more important. Later in this report, we will suggest innovations (and methods of innovating that Merlin itself can employ) to meet these challenges. First, however, we examine some of the trends that are elevating women and girls as a primary market segment and that form the context for Merlin’s new strategies. We then investigate how other companies and organizations, in and out of the retail computer and high-tech business, are coming to terms with selling to women and girls or otherwise facilitating their participation as producers as well as consumers in the sector. The innovation suggestions are this report’s conclusion, a taking-off point for Merlin in the 21st Century.
  • 9. Trends Bearing on Women and Girls as Participants in the Information Society and 2 Consumers of Computers and High Technology Two meta-trends – coherent aggregations of individual trends – intersect to create a primary nexus, a conceptual/social space that Merlin inhabits and in which it must develop and implement its next strategies. The first of these meta-trends is, of course, the emergence (and convergence) of computing and communications as a giant, fundamental retail industry commonly known as ITC. This trend began in the 1970s with the creation of the first personal computers, accelerated in the 1980s with the introduction of competition to the telecommunications business, and went into hyper-drive in the 1990s as the Internet became a global utility, an enabler providing great value at relatively low cost. In the 2000s, it can be argued, ITC shares economic dominance with the energy, transportation, and food industries (each of which relies heavily on ITC for its operations). Unlike these other mega-industries, however, ITC also has a personal dimension: individuals and small organizations can participate as ITC producers as well as consumers of ITC products 2 These trends are best summarized in the many Pew Foundation research studies found online. A well-known and heavily cited Pew study that describes the different experiences of men and women online is attached to this report. Its findings in many ways apply also to men and women’s (and boys and girls’) experiences with “offline” technologies: TVs, GPS, MP3 players, and so forth.
  • 10. and services – of value itself. For the most part, men have precipitated, planned, and implemented the strategies that led to this meta-trend’s occurrence and its significance. The second meta-trend is the new respect given women and girls in modern societies and its consequences for how women and girls now live, learn, work, play, and act in civil society. Throughout history, individual women have occupied privileged and even leadership positions in society. But this meta-trend affecting all women (and girls) in modern societies got its start with the official abolition of slavery, the diminished authority of male-hierarchical religions, and the entry of women into the workforce and citizenry, all occurring more or less in the late 19th and 20th Centuries. In the 1960s, feminism became a driving force that through cultural influence and political action created conditions that enable women and girls to lead fuller, self-determined lives. Many men may have sympathized and collaborated with this movement, but essentially it was women themselves who forced the issues. Thus we might say that the intersection of ITC’s rise and women’s empowerment is also where male and female values collide. This collision has created the social and economic context within
  • 11. which Merlin must conduct its business and evolve to maximize its business success. Descending from the lofty heights of meta-trend spotting, at ground level we can identify specific trends that bear on Merlin’s operations. In the ITC realm, the development of personal technology enlarges the population of buyers from a relatively few large companies and agencies to encompass nearly everyone. As consumers of personalized products and services, individuals now wield enormous power to accept or reject new products and services, and to demand and create markets for products and services that do not yet exist. In the realms of business and government, large organizations may still exercise control; but in the realm of personal technology, the balance of power has shifted to the individual. Theoretically, each individual in the market exercises power regarding the availability of products and services, and how they are sold, based on his or her buying power. And based on the second meta-trend, we might expect that women and girls, even if they have not yet achieved full economic parity with men and boys, now exercise buying power they did not have before. In fact, they do, directly as buyers for themselves and as determiners of family purchases. Hard evidence is coming in that to support the conclusion intuitively reached by many retailers that women in family situations in fact exert greater control over these decisions then their male
  • 12. partners. (This is true for almost every type of business that sells to households.) The problem for Merlin and its peer retailers is that the lines of social communication within the ITC industry are addled. Two separate cultures and languages exist among men and women (and boys and girls). Men often value technology as an end in itself, that one conforms his behavior to what technology makes possible. Women, on the other hand, value behaviors – particularly social behaviors – more than they do technology; technology is useful only to the extent that it accommodates valued behaviors. In other words, the two genders have reversed means and ends. Of course, this is a gross generalization, but it is sufficiently true to produce the current loggerhead that has kept women from entering or enjoying those environments in the physical world and online (the virtual world) that glorify technology. When women as consumers express their needs, either directly or by withholding their business, their expressions are often misunderstood or not understood at all by the men who run the ITC industry. This dichotomy is palpable. A great deal of energy has been invested to create professional organizations like Women in Technology International (WITI) and institutions like the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) in North America. These marshal corporate, academic, and government resources to find common ground for men and women with regard to ITC. They rely on a mix of
  • 13. cultural influence and concrete action to bridge the gap separating men and women in the ITC community (for example, by encouraging girls to consider careers in ITC and by sensitizing male executives to women’s ways of seeing things from within and outside the ITC community). So far, these initiatives have achieved marginal success. In North America at least, women remain vastly underrepresented in the ITC community in every subsector – academic, government, and corporate – with two exceptions. One is the entrepreneurial subsector: women occupy proportionately more commanding positions in small companies than they do in larger ones. In Scandinavia, where social norms differ, women also hold more power in government institutions. The other exception is the “C” of ITC, communications. Particularly in mobile services and new media, women often occupy influential positions, as for example the chief designer for Nokia, who is a woman. But often these women’s influence doesn’t trickle down to the world of retail. Consequently, retailers like Merlin who perceive a problem frequently turn to their design and marketing divisions, and their advertising agencies, to hammer out company-specific programs for attracting women and girls as customers. Because women have been important actors in design, marketing, and advertising since the 1970s, they are more abundant and influential in these “soft” but important business fields then they are in, say, manufacturing, operations, and finance. More recently, social scientists including
  • 14. ethnographers have been called in to provide the design, marketing, and advertising professionals with a sounder knowledge about women and girls as customers. Probably half of these social scientists are women. Nevertheless, the success of these company-specific campaigns has been problematic, perhaps because being in business inherently encourages formulating concrete objectives based on empirical data and discourages intuitive decisionmaking based on subjective analysis. That is, women in business may “tune down” their identification with women in general and therefore not provide sufficient countervailing force to men’s limited understanding and positions regarding how best to attract women customers. Again, this may be less true in the communication and media industries, where subjective judgments are more the norm. But so far, the ITC industry generally, including retailers, has had mixed results for its efforts. Remedying this situation within Merlin’s own organization and among its service providers will be important as Merlin prepares to innovate its way out of the ITC industry’s self-made cultural trap. We now summarize some representative efforts made by companies to attract women and girls as customers and their outcomes to the extent they have been reported.
  • 15. Women and Girls as Customers: What’s Been Tried, Accomplished, and Learned So Far Without being mystical about it, women (and girls) have a special relationship with technology. This relationship isn’t based on fear or disinterest, which was the prevailing cliché in the last century and right up to today. It’s based on an understanding of technology as a means to an end, that end being in most cases to create and sustain important social relations, educate children, or locate and secure the necessities of life for the family and one’s larger circle of friends. For different reasons at different times, agencies and companies have tried to cater to women’s relationship with technology. In the 1930s and 1940s, this relationship was glorified as women’s labor became essential to national security. In the post-war years, it ceased to be about production and became about consumption, so that women were “demoted” intellectually: so long as they could buy things, it was less necessary that they know how things work. Never mind that many men were just as baffled by ITC and its workings. Women were given a special dispensation to be unknowing. Now that the ability to produce value has become so widely distributed across modern societies, women’s and girls’ relationship to technology has once again become problematic. In most people’s hearts, women’s ability to deal with technology on equal terms with men is desirable in terms of “fairness,” important to their ability to
  • 16. earn a living and have a role in civic society. There are laws on the books to ensure that technology doesn’t become a divisive social factor – for example, requiring equal access to communications media. But the fact remains that men and women are different in the way they see and act in the world, and how they speak about it – and this flavors everything, including the way they respectively participate in the buying experience. The Buying Experience is a term Gemba uses to describe every experience, intentionally devised or otherwise, that contributes to the decision to buy – or not buy – a product or service. It is also known as the customer experience. Sometimes it is more narrowly defined as the shopping experience. Whatever we call it, understanding and shaping the buying experience to fit the needs, wants, and behaviors of desired customers is important to commercial success. For years this has been known intuitively; some businesses got it and prospered, others didn’t and went away. Today, knowledge of and fascination with the buying experience is at the cutting edge of modern business, abetted by the fact that with the ITC now available, it’s possible to shape and manipulate the buying experience as never before. Why is it, then, that companies struggle to reach women as prospective customers and to retain their loyalty despite being better equipped than ever to amplify the buying experience? Based on the experience of companies that have tried, and pollsters’ and other researchers’ conversations with women, we know that women, when
  • 17. confronted with technological buying opportunities, want these things: 1. First and foremost, women want to be acknowledged as having their own perspective on technology and its value, which is different from but as valid as men’s. Anything less and the rest of the prescriptions go out the door. Obviously, there needs to be an expression on the part of the retailer that it understands and respects women on this point. This isn’t just a philosophical position. Individual women often express this exact sentiment when surveyed by market researchers. 2. Women want to be spoken with – not “to” – on their own terms. It may be that most men are incapable of doing this when it comes to technology as a thing to own and use for reasons that are organic. Whether men can or can’t is a subjective question with no easy metric, only whether a woman or women feel the dialogue is going well. Extrapolating to the store setting (physical or online), the quality of the collective or synthetic conversation becomes at issue: whether the people staffing the store and their trainers, or the individuals who built the website, are able to speak on the women’s terms. 3. Women’s own terms include “comfort,” “objective,” “not condescending or patronizing,” and “understanding of my wants, needs, and resources.” Comfort means being able to converse without language or manners getting in the way. Objective means discussing the products or services at
  • 18. hand from a critical perspective, which really is the best solution for a customer’s need. Not condescending or patronizing means meeting the woman customer as an equal who isn’t fooled by false sincerity. Understanding means empathizing, being able to put oneself in the woman customer’s shoes to get the full measure of what she has to say or what her needs and wants might be. 4. On a buying mission, women want to know where they are; where what they need is located; and how best to get there, acquire the product, and use it. In new environments, women want navigational aides – online, via technological assists; and in the store or at home (perhaps having a computer repaired) in the form of human helpers and guides. 5. Women appreciate style and beauty in ways different from men. This is reflected in art and recreation as well as in the commercial sphere, but it is in the commercial sphere that this difference is often accentuated, sometimes to grotesque dimensions. The classic case is the “pink everything” solution for “feminizing” a product line, which reliably produces an opposite reaction to what the product manager had in mind. On the other hand, in informal interviews, professional women, customers working in the IT field, express appreciation when a vendor like Dell makes an honest gesture toward them as women Frequently cited is Dell’s offer of computer bags in colors other than black, that can be matched to one’s apparel.
  • 19. 6. Women prefer to speak with women, and this is true of ITC as it is in other sectors. Not that men’s advice isn’t welcome, but women’s words are more easily exchanged. This extends from the showroom floor where the customer and a sales person speak about an item up to the highest levels of corporate management, where policies are devised that affect in one way or another how the woman customer is treated and her needs met. 7. Without help, women and girls will solve their own problems their own way – only, their ends and means may not be the best, seen from the retailer’s point of view. Often, while a woman customer is struggling with a problem, obviously in need of assistance, there is a moment to intercede…and then it passes. Once it does, not only is the problem solution no longer the retailer’s to manage, the opportunity for creating a loyal customer through meaningful interaction or joint activity is gone, possibly forever. This has been the case in the mobile phone industry, where unless there are financial shackles keeping customers tied up, they fluidly move between and among vendors of service. Loyalty to a mobile provider is now almost unthinkable as a customer strategy, although mobile as a service does get women’s and especially girls’ close attention. Top Ten Recommendations for Merlin’s New Buying Experience
  • 20. In this section we suggest 10 strategic and tactical ways that Merlin can attract and serve a large female clientele. These recommendations are based on the trends identified earlier in this report and the empirical evidence of key firms as described online and in the press. These suggestions are presented as action items without specifying exactly the sequence that fits Merlin’s agenda. Several can be implemented concurrently. 1. Re-theme “Merlin.” The legacy of the Merlin name is an historical accident more than 80 years old based on the founder’s last name. The name has value because it is recognizable and a beacon for people searching for computer and other high-tech gear for personal and home use. But that value is degraded by the “magic” theme that turns it into a sort of fairytale pun. Also, magic is not something to which many women may relate given their concrete, day-to-day responsibilities. For them, technology isn’t magical. It’s a tool, useful for more efficiently carrying out tasks and staying connected with significant others. Similarly, competing on price confuses Merlin’s real message to women, which is that it has the tools necessary to live a better life. Ideally, a better life comes without a price tag. If Merlin’s prices are lower, customers will know it when they compare Merlin’s products with its competitors.
  • 21. 2. Enable women customers to speak with other women customers. Assuming that their experiences are favorable, this is one way to build customer loyalty. But the worth of this enablement goes deeper. Through forums online and at events that provide an opportunity to meet other women also working with technology which they buy from Merlin, women customers have a chance to exercise their inherent ability to make connections that provide good feelings and reassurance. This hyggeligt will carry over to the rest of the Buying Experience. 3. Train staff to understand how women think about technology, computer and other high-tech products, and the Buying Experience; and then to learn how to demonstrate and use this understanding through fruitful conversations with women customers. This has two benefits. The first is that transactions with women customers will be more satisfying and productive, which translates into happier customers, confident staff, more and larger sales, and higher revenues with lower costs. The second benefit is that staff turnover will be reduced. Salespeople thrive on closing sales, cash rewards aside. Every transaction that does not end well is source of disappointment for a salesperson and one more reason for him or her to terminate employment with a company, Merlin included. 4. Provide after-sale support for customers, targeted to
  • 22. women. Like Best Buy’s Geek Squad, with its natty uniforms and VW Beetle squad cars, a Merlin support team can provide assurance to women customers that even their own partners may not. Besides being a source of revenues, the support team extends Merlin’s presence from the store into the home in a tangible way, on a continuing basis. 4. Recruit for and elevate more women to managerial and executive positions. As TDC discovered after extensive research, women managers and executives in most circumstances greatly increase the success of a company and its competitive position. It may have to do with women’s social skills or another innately female ability, or it may just be that women managers and executives try harder, since leadership positions are harder for women to come by and are more valued by women than by men who may feel entitled to these positions. Whatever the reason, a company feels better when women are involved in management, especially to women customers. As a corollary, Merlin should encourage its suppliers – manufacturers and manufacturers and service providers – to do the same. This will facilitate inter-company communications and planning. Also, products designed with women in mind will contribute to more female clientele across the board, lifting all boats in the process. 5. Make sure women customers have the guidance they want when shopping. On the website store, this can take the
  • 23. form of an interactive, informative online experience including readily available assists (like ask-me chat rooms). In the physical stores, informative signage and shelf tags should speak to women in the context of the things that they have to get done, not about the technology per se. Trained and well- equipped salespersons, especially those who are designated as “concierges,” can make a very positive difference in women customers’ satisfaction. This is one key to the Apple Stores’ success. Apple’s concierges, with advanced technical training, are designated as “Geniuses.” Its floor personnel, who also are well versed in Apple’s product line, are provided with technology – for example, networked iPhones (used as Internet and intranet portals) and handheld card readers – to quickly make and close sales on the spot. For a technology vendor like Apple or Merlin, this additionally demonstrates that the vendor is technologically competent and a good source of knowledge, advice, and products. 6. Give women and other customers a place to meet within Merlin. These needn’t be a formal space, although a café and bookstore would set a good tone and probably result in additional customer time spent in the stores – and consequently, sales made. It just needs to be a space in the store not given over completely to merchandising, a kind of oasis amid the activity that should be taking place everywhere else: “the pause that refreshes.” Women have few such places in the workplace or at home.
  • 24. 7. Participate in the community outside the physical stores and off the Internet. Merlin needs an outreach program. Its managers are available to receive email via the website, but they can also go out into the community to build personal relationships with groups and individuals who could be potential buyers. Also, Merlin can participate in programs for local schools, libraries, community centers, and retirement homes. These mean a great deal in Nordic societies. Merlin’s presence would be taken by all customers, but especially by women, as a sign of an open heart…from which more sales would result. 8. Create a virtual version of No. 7. Plan and manage all of the ways that Merlin and its social environment (and the people within that environment) come into contact with and influence one another. Mapping these “touchpoints” and optimizing them to create a compelling Buying Experience will be more productive than advertising, which simply throws words and images into onto various media. Advertising is best used for reinforcing impressions of a company’s identity and products, not establishing public awareness in the first place. Mattel, which is revamping its line of toys for children, has decided to forego additional advertising and concentrate its resources on creating powerful websites that effectively, interactively, and entertainingly reach children and teenagers, and their parents. These websites extend the Mattel Buying Experience the time before a purchase is made and after it is
  • 25. made. 9. Become ecological. The high-tech industries are notorious polluters, in their factories and as producers of products that become toxic waste, picked apart in unhealthy ways by children in the Third World, for recycling. Why not recycle locally, in partnership with manufacturers and organizations set up to fight pollution and waste. Women repeatedly poll higher on measurements of sensitivity to corporations’ and agencies’ “tredding lightly on the earth.” These are the strategies and tactics that Gemba recommends and that Merlin can implement immediately. Gemba is available to help. Our last recommendation transcends strategy. In the future, Merlin needs to be more than just a retailer of electronics, an increasingly crowded and competitive field (with competition coming from overseas as well as locally). 10. Take advantage of transformational opportunities. Merlin is 85 years of age. It has a long legacy as a trusted, family-owned retailer of photographic equipment. Only relatively recently did computers and high-tech products and services become its mainstay. In the last decade, Merlin has gone through several changes of ownership. With each change, it had a chance to make fundamental changes to the way it did business. There have been a few, mostly technical
  • 26. changes (financial structure, branding, and additions to the product line), but nothing substantive; no breakthroughs. After 85 years, it’s probably time for more fundamental changes to the business, bringing it up-to-date with 21st-Century realities. This includes changes that will appeal to women and girl customers. The Merlin of the future, to remain viable and to grow, must perpetually reinvent itself to keep up with changes in the business environment: transform itself through innovation. What those changes will be are beyond the scope of this report, although they can be anticipated – but preparing Merlin for them is something that Merlin’s management can begin immediately. As always, Gemba is here to help.
  • 27. REFERENCES FROM THE PRESS Following is content found on the Web that pertains to the gender conundrum facing retailers of personal computers and high-tech gear for home and worklife. This survey begins by surveying the institutional factors creating the male-female dichotomy facing retailers, starting with the organizations founded to integrate women in the ICT industry – and their success or not. It then examines how individual companies have tried to crack the gender barrier in the physical world and also in the virtual world, online. The most attention is paid to Best Buy, the store most like Merlin (though physically and in terms of stores, personel, customers, and revenues, it is quite a bit larger) that has consciously addressed the issue of making its stores and services more appealing to women and girls. The survey then presents articles about a cross-industry selection of companies, some in high-tech and some not, that have in one way or another contributed to the solution of making women loyal customers; or that have had just the opposite effect. WITI (Women in Technology International) website Carolyn Leighton founded WITI to help women advance by providing access to - and support from - other professional women working in all sectors of technology. (Read the story or watch the video.) WITI started in 1989 as The International Network of Women in Technology and, in 2001, evolved into The WITI Professional Association, the nation's leading trade association for tech-savvy women. Today, WITI is the premiere global organization empowering women in business and technology to achieve unimagined possibilities. With a global network of smart, talented women and a market reach exceeding 2 million, WITI has powerful programs and partnerships that provide connections, resources, opportunities and a supportive environment of women committed to helping each other. Along with its professional association of Networks throughout the U.S. and worldwide, including Hong Kong, Great Britain, Australia, and Mexico, WITI delivers value for individuals that work for a company, the government or academia, as well as small business owners. NCWIT: How can unbiased software facilitate girls’ interest in IT? tice.pdf ES often has embedded gender stereotypes that reinforce different male and female social roles and may promote gendered career interests. These embedded stereotypes can also create discomfort or anxiety that lead to under-performance and less interest and self-efficacy in IT. Women in IT go east, data shows, Computerworld, October 2, 2007 command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9039718&source=NLT_PM&nlid=8 David Leighton, president of Women in Technology International in Sherman Oaks, Calif., said he is surprised by the lower percentages of women in IT in tech-centric areas such as San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara and Seattle, but he added that it could be misleading. "When you look at some of the numbers on women-owned businesses, so many women in the technology industry leave to start their own businesses. That could definitely impact a lot of the numbers" in California compared with the East Coast, he said. "They fall off the radar as an IT person" and are classified as business owners rather than IT professionals, Leighton said. Another trend that's occurring, Leighton said, is that many more women are moving into executive
  • 28. rather than hands-on IT roles, which changes their job categorizations, even if they remain in IT. "A lot of what we view as the technology parts of a business are widening," he said. Leighton said that a recent book on women in business, How She Does It (Viking Adult, 2007), by entrepreneur and writer Margaret Heffernan, points out that an average of 280 women-owned businesses start up each day in the U.S. And many of those, he speculated, are being started by women who are moving away from direct IT roles into business leadership roles where the IT component is no longer their prime job. BBC News, “Women put off by ‘gadget shops,’” Sep 10, 2007 Women are put off spending money in electronics shops because of the way they are treated, a survey suggests. Contrary to popular myth, female consumers are interested in technology, the study found – but they do not feel confident asking questions in stores. In the poll by Saatchi and Saatchi, a third of women Internet users said they would spend more on gadgets if retailers learned how to approach them. One respondent said electrics shops reeked of a "strong scent of men". However, only 9% of those questioned felt it was important that gadgets looked feminine. In addition, many said that they felt patronised by pink digital radios and diamante-encrusted mobile phones. The Female Factor Corporation: Strategic Consulting on Marketing to Women Mencyclopedia: of Women’s Speech It’s not always easy to decode women’s speech. For one thing, women speak a lot more than men do – 20,000 words a day on average, versus 7,000 per day for men. So what in the world are women talking about all the time? In an effort to bridge the gender gap, we’ve compiled the following glossary of terms to help serve as a translation guide for how to speak female. TFF cites the Geek Squad as a case of successful marketing to women. Vive le Difference Men and women have different brain structures that determine how we each view the world. These differences shape our reactions to everything we see, touch and feel, as well as how we form our opinions of others. The crux of the issue is that each gender believes its own behavior is the normal one. Men think racing the car next to them off of a stoplight is normal. Women think complimenting strangers on their clothing is normal. Your instincts about what constitutes normal behavior and what motivates people is based on your brain chemistry and the gender culture in which you grew up…male or female. From the moment you were born, you were taught the appropriate ways to interact with others based on
  • 29. your sex. As an adult, your gender culture lens is the invisible, unconscious filter you use to judge the world around you. The Purse String Podcast Podcast on selling to women. M2W: The Marketing to Women Conference (annual) Being held in Chicago, May 8-9, 2008, Retail Industry, “Selling to Women: Five Rules” Small Business Branding blog (UK), “Selling to Women: The New Pink Pound” RTO Online, “Customer service wake up call: sell effectively to women and land consumer loyalists,” Nov 29, 2007 asp Although women are more likely to experience problems, the issue can be more detrimental to retailers' business when male shoppers are involved. Men are nearly 20% less likely to recommend a store where they experienced problems than women. When it comes to purchases for the home, women are the undisputed decision-makers. Women contribute $4 trillion dollars annually to U.S. retail spending, and with the National Retail Federation recently reporting that the average consumer spent 3.5% less this Black Friday as compared to last year (see story), retailers need to cater to the needs of women more than ever. "In a year in which retailers need to work extra hard to attract customers, it's clear that delivering a great shopping experience is going to mean short term sales and long term benefits for the retailer in the form of loyalty and positive word-of-mouth," said Delia Passi, Founder of consulting company WomenCertified. Passi, author of Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women, is the nation's leading authority on selling to women. In a recent survey, WomenCertified asked female consumers a series of questions about how they cope with the retail environment. The results show that high quality service and stress-free shopping is essential in achieving shopper satisfaction. "The women we talked to reinforced their need for a sales environment in which they could easily find what they needed and could get the help they were looking for," explained Passi. "Sometimes something as simple as ensuring there are clean bathroom facilities or making eye contact while conversing with the shopper can make the difference between a positive sales experience and one that has women promising never to return to the store." RTO Online, “Women, Thirty Somethings Drive Increased Game Console Sales,” Jan 25, 2008
  • 30. According to the data compiled by the NPD Group, overall U.S. video game console software sales reached $6.6 billion (153.9 million units), computer games sales were $910.7 million (36.4 million units), and a record $2.0 billion (77.5 million units) in portable software sales. In terms of total units sold, approximately 267.8 million computer and video games were sold in 2007. "NPD's consumer demographic data verifies that two non-traditional consumer groups grew over- proportionately to the whole: females and individuals over the ages of 35," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. Engadget, “Survey says women patronized by pink tech,” Sep 10, 2007 Normally we don't go in for the whole "listening to what surveys say" thing, but when it comes to the cause of questioning the logic behind endless lines of pink gadgets designed to appeal to the female "market," we'll gladly pass on the criticism. There's a clear British slant to the story -- the survey was commissioned by Saatchi and Saatchi after all -- and it would be ludicrous to say that all women find pink / diamond encrusted gadgets and the atmosphere in gadget retail stores patronizing, but it's clear that the technology industry is tipped towards satisfying male buyers. To prevent this post from collapsing into a psychoanalysis of the gender associations with the color pink, we'll open this up to the floor. RTFA - it's a real piece of work: ---------------------------------------------------- • Women are put off spending money in electronics shops because of the way they are treated, a survey suggests. • Contrary to popular myth, female consumers are interested in technology, the study found - but they do not feel confident asking questions in stores. • In the poll by Saatchi and Saatchi, a third of women Internet users said they would spend more on gadgets if retailers learned how to approach them. • One respondent said electrics shops reeked of a "strong scent of men". However, only 9% of those questioned felt it was important that gadgets looked feminine. • In addition, many said that they felt patronised by pink digital radios and diamante-encrusted mobile phones. Marketing to Women Online, “Women and Mobile Gaming,” July 7, 2006 Donchaluvit? Another "women don't use technology" stereotype smashed. A recent report by Telephia, a mobile industry performance measurement reporting company, found that in the mobile gaming space, four of the top five revenue-generating titles were in the Puzzle/Strategy category. These mobile games do very well with women. Sixty-five percent of mobile game revenue is driven by female wireless subscribers who contribute 72 percent of the total share of revenue, while men contribute 28 percent. Women dominate revenue generation for all mobile game categories with the exception of Action/Adventure mobile games, in which men drive 60 percent of the revenue for that category. Ad placement in mobile games is a rapidly growing industry. Don't make the mistake of thinking young men are the only target market.
  • 31. Marketing to Women Online, “Should a Man or a Woman Design Your Site?” Aug 10, 2005 Thanks to Michael Martine for turning me on to a short but interesting article Web Sites Have Sex Appeal. A study at the University of Glamorgan in the United Kingdom found that the sexes reacted very differently to sites when surfing the web. The study found members of each sex preferred websites designed by their own sex. Not a big surprise since so many web designers design what they like, as opposed to what’s truly best for their audience. Nevertheless, a look at the web sites of 32 higher education institutions found 94 percent displaying a masculine orientation and just 2 percent a female bias, the study said. This was the case, even though all the schools' target audience was almost equally balanced between the sexes. I’d love to know what criteria they’re using for “masculine orientation” and “female bias”. But my guess is, the numbers probably aren’t too far off. Be sure to check out Michael’s take on men designing websites for women. This all begs the question - should you design your website differently for men than for women? The answer – YES YES YES – so much of a yes I could write a whole book about it. But what do you do when you’re trying to appeal to both sexes? There are ways to do that, too. (also another books worth of info on this) Note – when I say design websites I’m talking about more than just the template, I’m talking about navigation, usability, content, copy, etc. Here are just a few things to keep in mind • Men don’t ask for directions. They’ll fumble around your site for a while til they find what they’re looking for. Women won’t waste the time. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’re gone. You better make darn sure your site has clearly defined pathways to get visitors to their relevant information. • Women are gift givers. (when was the last time your hubby went out and bough Christmas gifts for your relatives? When was the last time he bought Christmas gifts for his relatives) Your site has to have clear pathways to gift certificates, clear options for including gift messaging, and an easy way to bill one address and ship to another. - Women categorize products differently than men. You can’t just say “shirts” and “dresses”. Women think of big picture categories – like “summer cocktail outfits.” Look at how you categorize your products. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but I mention it because I think there’s a very big issue here. Should companies hire more women to design their websites? Well, I guess that’s one way. But I’d suggest companies do a better job of understanding what their female website visitors want. I have a few thousand ideas on that subject. CMA Management, “What women want: gender-based marketing is a risky business, but it's a risk companies can't refuse,” Dec 1, 2003 Nineteen fifty-five. The United States and Panama sign the canal treaty, James Dean dies in a car crash, and Scrabble makes a dramatic entrance into the board game market. With 20 million
  • 32. American women now licensed to drive, Chrysler rolls out the Dodge La Femme and hails it as the first and only car designed for "your majesty, the modern American woman." A hardtop custom coupe version of the Royal Lancer, the Dodge La Femme features "Heather Rose" exterior, upholstery and trim, and an eyebrow-raising set of accessories that includes a raincoat, umbrella, purse, lipstick and compact. But it's not, apparently, what the 1950s modern American woman had in mind; the Dodge La Femme bombs and is pulled off the market the following year. Today, almost half a century later, the Dodge La Femme lives on as a vintage car--a collector's item that offers both sentimental value and the intriguing appeal of a somewhat tainted past. To marketers, however, the Dodge La Femme is highly valuable for a very different reason: it's a shining example of what companies shouldn't do when trying to create and market products that they hope will appeal to women. "Marketing to women should be transparent, not pink," says Martha Barletta, president of The TrendSight Group in Chicago and author of Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment. "Companies who want to reach women need to really show that they're sensitive to the needs of this market and that they're taking it seriously. Because if they think that it's all about decor and all they need to do is paint their brand pink, that will backfire on them 99 out of a hundred times." Know your customer Even with the lessons learned from the Dodge La Femme fiasco, and the supposed evolution of marketing principles and techniques over the last five decades, gender-based marketing--a term that almost always applies to marketing that is directed to women--remains a risky undertaking for most companies. Get it wrong and you're certain to offend. Miss the mark and your targeted audience will ignore you. Either way, you're looking at a very costly mistake. But as marketing experts like Barletta will tell you, gender-based marketing is a risk that companies simply can't afford not to take. Consider these numbers: women account for more than half the population in North America--15.4 million women versus 15.1 million men in Canada. They make up almost half the workforce in Canada and are responsible for more than half of business trips taken each year. Women are also leading the entrepreneurial charge in the country; according to Industry Canada, four out of five businesses are started by women. Most significantly, research has shown that women control 80% of consumer dollars spent in North America. "Marketing to women represents opportunities for all companies and is imperative for companies in key industries like automotive, computers, consumer electronics and financial services," says Barletta. "Women represent the largest market in the world. By not talking to women, you're leaving a lot of money on the table." So how does one talk to the largest, most powerful market in the world? Doreen Menaker, national manager of corporate and marketing research at Sears Canada Inc., where women account for up to 70 per cent of customers, says it really all boils down to a basic marketing tenet: understanding your customer. "Gender marketing is not about male versus female," she says. "What it's about is understanding how your customer wants to use your product, how they shop your store, the level of service they expect, the style they want and the price level they're comfortable with." By taking this approach, says Menaker, Sears has avoided the assumptions and generalizations normally tied to gender. Instead, the company focuses on actual findings from customer research. For instance, Sears learned from its studies that the quality and level of service in fitting rooms is very important to its primary buyer. Unlike male customers, whose sole purpose in trying on clothing is to ensure it fits, Sears' female buyers try on clothes to scrutinize how the colour looks
  • 33. against their skin, how the waist fits and whether the neckline is cut in a way that is flattering to them. "Women have more demands and, when they're trying on clothes, they often need to have someone assisting them to get another size or another colour," says Menaker. "We recognized this fact and employed a different service strategy for our female customers." Beyond focus groups Joanne Thomas Yaccato, president of the Toronto-based consulting firm The Thomas Yaccato Group, and author of The 80% Minority: Reaching the Real World of Women Consumers, says companies that want to reach women need to start looking at the world from a woman's point of view--in essence putting on what Yaccato calls a "gender lens" and filtering everything through it. Some marketers have successfully gained insights into what women want by conducting market research in "girl-friend groups"--where all participants know each other and belong to the same social circle--or Oprah-style talks. Unlike the artificial and contrived atmosphere often produced by focus groups, these settings encourage candid exchanges and often yield surprising gems of information. While this type of research is valuable, Yaccato thinks companies need to go even further. More precisely, they need to locate their gender lens closer to home--right in their own management team. "The vast majority of decision makers in companies--from human resources, advertising and sales training--are predominantly male executives," she says. "Well, you need to have a balance of what I call x and y chromosomes in the company by having women in every one of these departments. And I'm talking about having women in roles as decision makers." Yaccato cites Bank of Montreal as an example of a company that understood that the best way to promote its services to women was to create an equitable working environment. In the early 1990s, Tony Comper, BMO Financial Group's chairman and CEO, formed the Task Force on the Advancement of Women. The task force's mandate was to remove the barriers that had, for many years, prevented female employees from moving up the ranks. It obviously succeeded; today, women comprise 35% of executives at BMO, compared to just 9% in 1991. Women also run three of the company's five Canadian divisions. And just as Comper had predicted--that women would respond positively to a corporate culture that values equity, respect and dignity--BMO's female customers have overwhelmingly expressed their approval. Ongoing customer tracking reveals that female customers are more loyal to the bank than their male counterparts and have placed a larger share of their assets--5% more than men--with BMO. "The bank must 'get it right' with employees," Comper is quoted in Yaccato's book, "who in turn will get it right with customers, who in turn will reward the bank with more business, which in turn enables the organization as a whole to get it right with share-holders." What men want too One of the most common arguments against gender-based marketing is that it might alienate the male market. The fact is, what women want often turns out to be what men also wanted but just never bothered to ask for. Take Home Depot, for example. The big-box hardware retailer had known for some time that, while women accounted for 50% of the company's sales, their influence on overall purchases was even higher. Recognizing that women focused more on projects and out-comes and less on products and their features, Home Depot installed design showrooms that presented "room vignettes." It also trained its sales associates to double-check
  • 34. that customers had everything they need for a project, and made its stores brighter, cleaner and less cluttered. "We have more of a decor focus than ever before," says Pat Wilkinson, director of marketing for Home Depot Canada. "But while the improvements we've made may appeal particularly to women, they also benefit our male customers and increase their satisfaction with the shopping experience. Because in home improvements, the motivations are the same whether you're a man or a woman. It's about pride of home." Over the years, Home Depot has built a reputation as a company sensitive to the needs of women. Last year, it launched "do-it-herself" workshops--ongoing women-only clinics that aim to demystify the power tool. "We've had a huge response," says Wilkinson. "In the U.S., some stores had turnouts of 700 people. One of the things we did in Canada is we limited the number of people who can participate to 25 people. But one store in Quebec had sign-up sheets with almost 200 people, so they split that up and did five workshops instead." Like Yaccato, Wilkinson believes that the companies that succeed in marketing to women are those whose own cultures are based on diversity and inclusion, and whose executive ranks welcome women. "One of the things people ask us all the time is 'how did Home Depot get to be this kind of company?' Part of it is having a female leader," says Wilkinson. "And 40% of our senior management is made up of women." In spite of the sound rationale behind a marketing strategy that includes--if not specifically targets--women, many companies today are reluctant to acknowledge that, yes, they've noticed women as a distinct segment within their market and are talking to them directly for the first time. Coors Beer recently released an ad that showed a collage of real "empowered" women, including a firefighter, a professional dirt biker, surfer, cowhand and black belt karate instructor. The TV spot, which rolls out to the tune of Tom Jones' She's a Lady, is conspicuously devoid of that one constant in beer advertising: the cliched babe in a bikini. Hillary Martin, Coors' manager of external communication, insists that the ad is simply part of a "tapestry" approach to addressing different demographics. "It's not intended to be solely a commercial directed towards women," says Martin. "We don't want to alienate; our goal is to have broad acceptability with our market." Whether or not Coors was targeting women with its new ad, Barletta at The TrendSight Group says the beer company is on to a good thing. "All the other beer companies are focusing on their male customers and ignoring women," she says. "Well guess what's going to happen to the one company that actually starts talking to women the way they want to be talked to? Even if you increased your share of the women's market by only 1% with that one ad, you're still looking at a lot of dollars. And the dollars are incontrovertible proof that marketing to women is well worth the effort." RELATED ARTICLE: A world of difference: Women versus men In her book Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the Largest Market Segment, Martha Barletta identifies four key ways in which women differ from men. By understanding these differences, companies can communicate better with women and develop products that meet their needs. 1. A collective versus an individual perspective: According to Barletta, men typically look at the world from the perspective of the individual, whereas women look at it from the perspective of the
  • 35. group. 2. Maximizing versus prioritizing: Various studies out of Canada and the United States show women wear more hats than men. Consequently, women tend to maximize their time by trying to tackle as many tasks as possible within a given period. Men, on the other hand, prefer to prioritize and do their tasks in order of importance. 3. The works versus the bare bones: When it comes to perceiving and processing the information required to make decisions, women are more likely to look at all the details than men. "Men's orientation is towards the essentials--broad strokes, top lines," says Barletta. "When men make decisions, they want to strip away inessentials. Women approach decision making, perceptions and mental processing in exactly the opposite way." 4. Affinity versus competition: Women communicate and make connections through affinity and establishing links. Men connect through competition and challenge.
  • 36. Specific Cases Best Buy USA Today, “Best Buy gets in touch with its feminine side,” Dec 20, 2006 Women now influence 90% of consumer electronics purchases, from the type and look of the big- screen TV to the color of the iPod speakers for the living room, Best Buy says. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates their influence is less, but still significant and growing. It says women influence 57% of purchases, or $80 billion of the $140 billion spent on consumer electronics this year. Instead of hitting high-tech hysteria at Best Buy (BBY) this holiday season, shoppers may notice a softer, more personal atmosphere. Music is quieter. Lights are lower. Salespeople talk to customers about their lifestyles, what they want the technology to do for them — or the person getting the holiday gift — and how they want it to fit into their homes, offices, cars. In some stores, a "personal shopping assistant" will help with everything from designing a home entertainment system to picking a digital camera. If you need more help, one of thousands of its "Geek Squad" techies will come to your home to hook stuff up. The company also is beginning to promote more women. Since January, it has increased the number of female store general managers by 4% and the number of women in training to be general managers by 4%. It has doubled the number of women working in home theater departments in the past four months, it says. The company does not release specific numbers. "Women consumers are seeing a lot more women in our stores, and that makes it less frightening and less intimidating," says Anna Gallina, general manager of Best Buy's North Palm Beach, Fla., store, which has 40% female employees. She says she's seen big changes in the company since she joined 10 years ago as assistant manager of a store in Miami. "We don't just say a camera has 10 megapixels," she says. "We concentrate on how the technology fits into a customer's lifestyle and needs." Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, “Women’s Warrior at Best Buy,” Dec 18, 2007 Coverage of SVP Julie Gilbert, women’s advocate within Best Buy Best Buy, which historically has focused on young, male shoppers, has already widened aisles, toned down loud music and harsh lighting and added personal shopping assistants in some stores. Until about a 18 months ago the retailer controlled $10 billion of that $90 billion female market, Gilbert said. But recent efforts have increased that by $3 billion, in part because of work she has done through a program she started in 2003 called WOLF, or the Women's Leadership Forum. The program is the keystone of her seven-year career at Best Buy. And though she may not yet be hearing widespread cheers, as in the childhood story, she has taken WOLF from a dream -- literally -- pounded out on a laptop computer in the wee hours of the morning, to a program that includes about 20,000 of Best Buy's 140,000 workers. "My goal was to unleash the talents of employees who don't have official power ... by purposefully creating an environment where we'd support each other, instead of picking each other apart," said Gilbert, who worked on WOLF in addition to her normal duties for the first 18 months.
  • 37. She started by forming "WOLF packs," small groups of women and a few men (who had to apply) who met regularly. Pack meetings taught women better business skills -- such as reading profit- and-loss statements -- helped them make contacts with other women who had different or more advanced skills, and tapped the power of many minds to generate specific ways to make Best Buy a better company -- inside and out -- for women. Reuters, “Liz Claiborn to design gadget fashion for Best Buy,” Aug 15, 2007 feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews The Liz Claiborne Accessories line will be sold in about 250 U.S. Best Buy stores beginning in October. It will feature laptop bags and protective sleeves, business totes and cases for cell phones, music players and cameras. Prices will range from about $25 to $200 depending on the item. "We know many of our customers want technology to be more than a simple necessity, they want their devices to reflect their sense of style," said Liz Haesler, vice president at Best Buy, in a statement. Best Buy “Wii for Women” in-store event website Blogging Stocks, “Best Buy (BBY) woos women (again),” Aug 14, 2007 Describes how Studio D, a separate boutique for women, failed and has been supplanted by a store-wide initiative to embed selling to women in all BB stores and departments. Shiny Shiny (women’s gearhead blog), “Best Buy Wii for Women event;: positive or patronizing?” April 2, 2008 Now I understand that Best Buy is trying to get women into the store to look at the Wii, my problem is that this is just a patronizing way to do it. There wasn't an event in my city for me to attend, however, one woman who was able to attend an event says that the whole thing came off even creepier than the advertising made it sound. Apparently they were handing out chocolates and roses to the women in attendance and I just don't know how in the world that would get me to want a Wii. Destructoid (gaming blog), “The only thing missing was a roofie cocktail: Best Buy's Wii for Women event,” March 20, 2008 Not so coincidentally, Best Buy had fifty Wiis on hand at the event. I saw about five women in line for the console, and forty-five men. I asked the ladies if they were buying the system because Best Buy made them feel so wanted. All of them said they were buying it for sons.
  • 38. Circuit City PR Newswire, “Circuit City Creates Fashionable Totes for Women to Carry Laptop Computers and Electronics Gear,” Feb 3, 2005 ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-03-2005/0002946644&EDATE= The women of Circuit City are a driving force behind the Anika line. These associates saw a need for fun, colorful laptop bags and decided to take the idea from the drawing board to the sales floor," said Doug Moore, senior vice president, general merchandise manager at Circuit City Stores, Inc. “Research and development approval here at headquarters and analysis of the marketplace was all our design team needed to develop an entire line of laptop bags and bags for other electronic products such as cameras and camcorders.” The Anika collection, available in six designs, features custom yarn-dyed, rubber backed fabrics, splash-proof zippers and quilted linings to protect computers, accessories and files. The line includes carryall bags, laptop bags, camera bags, camcorder bags, CD wallets and a wheeled overnight case. "Anika serves an important, underserved market segment-women," added Moore. "In addition to Anika's fashion forward product designs, we were inspired to move forward b market research about women's consumer electronics purchasing power and their business travel needs." News on Women, PR Newswire, “Irynne MacKay Made SVP at Circuit City,” Dec 2006 Apple Inc. MacDaily News, “Avon CEO Andrea Jung joins Apple’s Board of Directors,” Jan 07, 2008 _board_of_directors/ Apple today announced that Andrea Jung, chairman and chief executive officer of Avon Products, was elected to Apple's board of directors. Andrea also serves on the board of directors of the General Electric Company and is a member of the New York Presbyterian Hospital board of trustees and the Catalyst board of directors. NY Times, “Inside Apple Stores, a Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful, Dec 27, 2007 pple now derives 20 percent of its revenue from its physical stores. And the number is growing. In the fourth quarter in 2007, which ended Sept. 30, Apple reported that the retail stores accounted for $1.25 billion of Apple’s $6.2 billion in revenues, a 42 percent increase over the fourth quarter in 2006. Apple stores generate sales at the rate of about $4,000 per square foot a year, according to a report last year by Sanford C. Bernstein analysts. As other electronics makers like Dell, Nokia and Sony still struggle to find the right retail formula, Apple seems to have perfected it.
  • 39. Not only has the company made many of its stores feel like gathering places, but the bright lights and equally bright acoustics create a buzz that makes customers feel more like they are at an event than a retail store. The close attention paid to detail in the stores’ designs, such as the maple veneer tables used for product displays, gives the impression that Steven P. Jobs himself, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, signed off on every square aesthetic inch of every store. “Apple’s retail offering is very compelling,” said Andrew Neff, senior managing director at Bear Stearns, “but the other key is the product. The retail concept ties in very much to the product.” But the secret formula may be the personal attention paid to customers by sales staff. Relentlessly smiling employees roam the floor, carrying hand-held terminals for instant credit-card swiping. Technicians work behind the so-called genius bar, ministering to customers’ ailing iPods, MacBooks and iPhones. Others, designated “personal trainers,” give one-on-one instruction and lead workshops. Personal shoppers are available by appointment, and last month the company took the concept of personalized service to a new level, with concierge teams stationed throughout each store. “They’ve become the Nordstrom of technology,” said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research, referring to the department store that is known for its service. Meanwhile, the Sony flagship store on West 56th Street, a few blocks from Apple’s Fifth Avenue store, has the hush of a mausoleum. And being inside the long and narrow blue-toned Nokia store on 57th Street feels a bit like being inside an aquarium. The high-end Samsung Experience showroom, its nuevo tech music on full blast one recent morning, was nearly empty. And although that store professes to encourage hands-on exploration of its products, the showroom has a clinical, forbidding feel. (Nothing is actually sold there; it’s just for display.) Consumerist blog, “Hey Apple, women buy computers, too,” Feb 2008 (Excerpts from a reader’s letter) “I had a horrific customer service experience in your Bellevue Square store that has me rethinking buying a Mac Air. I will certainly never set foot in that store again, and I hope I never have to deal with any of your Apple Store employees in person, if this is how they're trained to treat customers…. “First of all, Bill DID NOT LOOK AT ME. He did not greet me. He greeted my husband, introduced himself, and shook my husband’s hand... and completely ignored me. He didn't ask my name, what we were there to buy, or whom the new computer was for. He did not make eye contact. He simply behaved as though I were not there, and steered my husband through the crowded store — ignoring me and leaving me behind…. “I hope you'll let the managers at the Bellevue Square store know that women use computers, too, and that if a couple comes into a store to buy one, perhaps it would be a good idea to ask which of them is making a purchase. And if the answer is "a girl", please tell the employees to talk to her, and not her partner, brother, spouse, or some random guy standing ten feet away from her, as I believe Bill might have done.”
  • 40. Dell Computer Dell Computer website, Culture and Best Practices c=us&l=en&s=corp&~tab=2 Dell’s Women’s Initiative At Dell, we are committed to understanding and responding to the challenges women face around the world in balancing their professional and personal needs. We understand the importance of providing meaningful opportunities and resources to support women's success in our business. Our focus on building a global Women's Strategy across all Dell locations provides us the tools we need to fully access and leverage female talent globally…. … Dell recognizes that a diverse workforce is critical to the exploration of new ideas and the creation of innovation. We are committed to ensuring our managers identify the best and brightest diverse candidates in the marketplace to join the Dell team. Our relationships with diverse partners are what help us reach multicultural consumer groups across the world and recruit the best and brightest talent. Dell actively recruits women and minorities by sponsoring professional conferences, career fairs and community events with minority organizations. We partner with a number of organizations to identify new talent [list provided]. Future Tense/Wavelength blog, Minnesota Public Radio, “Is ad for Dell Computer sexist?” December 5, 2007 _dell_computer_sexist.shtml An attractive young woman in a short black dress kneels lovingly in front of a Dell 's all-in-one computer, the XPS One, in an ad in the Dec. 1 issue of U.S. News & World Report. The caption reads, "Dell. Now available in beautiful." I've just heard from a Future Tense listener who finds the ad offensive. She writes: "As a woman and as a mother, I am so TIRED of seeing ads like this. I won’t put up it with it anymore. I have called Dell and shared my response. I will not purchase Dell. When I help my less-than-tech-savvy friend purchase a PC later this month, it won’t be Dell, and I’ll tell her why. My mother is set to retire and is also looking at PCs – it won’t be Dell. When I go to my next professional association meeting, I will bring up this ad, my decision not to buy Dell, and why. I will email my friends about this. I will talk to family members about this. “I realize that Dell hopes to appeal to a certain demographic by running this ad. What someone in Marketing missed is that they’ve managed to offend another, larger group of existing and potential customers whose purchasing power extends beyond the home." Reply comments: Posted by Paul | December 6, 2007 6:25 AM Would the mother have been offended had the model been male instead, I wonder? Posted by Kate | December 8, 2007 7:41 AM In response to the comment posted by Paul, I would have the same response to this if it were a male model positioned and used in such a suggestive way. My issue is with the sexualization of
  • 41. products as a means to sell them. Microsoft Women at Microsoft, Microsoft website Microsoft is committed to attracting talented women to the company and the high-tech industry at large. We pursue this commitment with vigor through a comprehensive offering of benefits and opportunities designed to help each and every one of our employees realize their potential. [Followed by extensive services and employee testimonials.] Seattle P-I Online, “Women at Microsoft, by the numbers,” Aug 16, 2006 While reporting today's story on Microsoft's DigiGirlz, an annual camp designed to interest high- school girls in technology careers, I spent some time looking into some of the statistics on women employees at the company. A few factoids: • Women make up 25 percent of the company's U.S. work force. That's down from the 27 percent that the company was reporting at the end of 1998. • Less than 15 percent of Microsoft executives at the level of corporate vice president or higher are women. • Two of the 21 executives on Microsoft's senior leadership team are women (Lisa Brummel, human resources senior vice president; and Mich Mathews, marketing senior vice president). Seattle P-I Online, “Microsoft camp shows technology is womens work, too,” Aug 16, 2006 REDMOND -- Men outnumber women by a 3-1 ratio among Microsoft Corp.'s U.S. employees and by even more among its top executives. This week, the company brought in 73 high school girls to try to alter that balance. They are attending "DigiGirlz," an annual, weeklong day camp at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters that seeks to address the scarcity of women in technology by getting more girls intrigued about the profession. "I like computers -- maybe as a career, but probably not. I'm just sort of exploring. And some of the stuff is pretty crazy," said DigiGirlz camper Jessica Askew, 17, of Bellevue, referring with admiration to a demonstration of futuristic fingerprint-reading and facial-recognition technologies. As possible career choices, Askew said she's particularly interested in theater and writing. That illustrates one of the challenges technology companies face. Despite the industry's efforts to demonstrate infinite possibilities of software, the field often isn't viewed as a natural choice for women and girls who favor creative jobs. MIG on Marketing and Sales, “Bradford to run MSN,” Nov 18, 2006
  • 42. Microsoft announced this past week the elevation of Joanne Bradford, the company’s top ad sales exec, to run MSN. A good move - this is a market driven category and needs market awareness in the driver’s seat. At MIG we applaud the move.
  • 43. Fujitsu Siemens Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Women in IT South Africa newsletter, Dec 2005 %20Newsletters/Newsl_December2005/WIIT_News_Sponsor_1.htm The IT industry has been dominated by men. IT hardware manufacturers have recognised this and have designed their product offerings around a male-orientated market, with masculine attributes like power, performance, speed and efficiency the key selling points. Very little thought was paid to the emergence of Women in management in all areas of commerce, and thus design and portability were listed way down the list of priorities in new product development. About three years ago, Fujitsu Siemens Computers took cognisance of the growing number of Women using their products. In researching this market, Fujitsu Siemens Computers uncovered some interesting information and began to adapt their product development to make the products more acceptable (and user-friendly) to women. Not only did aesthetics and design receive some attention, Fujitsu Siemens Computers also looked at functionality and portability, developing computers that were slimmer, lighter, and better looking, and yet which did not compromise on performance., BenQ-Siemens AL 26 Cellphone,50 The BenQ-Siemens AL26 in inventive butterfly look is the perfect fashion accessory for young, style-conscious women. Delicate purple butterfly motifs adorn the shimmering white casing of this compact slider phone, making the mobile into a top-fashion eye-catcher – and not just for romantic women either. Butterfly motifs are currently setting trends and can be seen on almost every catwalk around the world. Both in Eastern and Western cultures, the butterfly is regarded as a symbol of evolving femininity. Thus the BenQ-Siemens AL26 represents the perfect companion for young style conscious women in an unparalleled manner. Feminine refinement is also visible in the decorative accessories that are supplied with the BenQ- Siemens AL26. The beautiful charm in butterfly design made of pearl shell is an eye catching decoration for the mobile that is guaranteed to draw admiring glances. Easy to operate for speech telephony, messages and organizing appointments, this mobile does not just exude up-to-the-minute fashion awareness; but also allegorizes a reliable companion, featuring user-friendly configuration and intuitive operation. As soon as the phone is turned on, polychromatic butterflies appear on the large color TFT display (130 x 130 pixels) and glimmer in 65,536 brilliant colors, a choice of wallpapers in beautiful butterfly design complete the theme. A diary giving an overview by day, week and month as well as a reminder function for important events are on board, as is a high-quality handsfree speech system. Polyphonic ringtones and a practical currency calculator round off the versatile features package. Precise four-way navigation above the keypad guides the user quickly and conveniently through the clear menu. All telephone numbers, appointments and other data stored on the mobile can be synchronized with a PC in an instant. The BenQ-Siemens AL26 will be on retail sale from mid-September 2006 in Europe and Latin America . Prices will be determined locally.
  • 44. AT&T AT&T Website: The External H&S Site: Women in Business, 1998 More women are starting businesses than ever before. In fact, surveys show it won't be too long before women are expected to represent half of all small business owners. And small enterprises need to think about innovative ways of doing business. For all these reasons – and, yes, also because AT&T looks forward to getting business from business women – AT&T last year set up a special website called AT&T Women in Business (WIB). Here we offer women free business advice from experts; inspirational stories of women who've succeeded in their own businesses; solutions to business problems; and, tips on doing business electronically. AT&T Website, 2008 Women make up 41 percent of AT&T's managers, above the average of most Fortune 500 companies. Yet of the 12 top executives who run AT&T, only one is a woman, the SVP for Marketing. Of the 14 individuals who constitute AT&T’s board, six are women. TDC TDC Online, “Diversity at TDC is about achieving a better balance between men and women in strategic management positions, Elizabeth Fiensted-Jensen, 2003 This PDF is of an excellent policy research document explaining why it is in TDC’s best interests strategically and operationally to encourage greater numbers of women to enter the managerial and executive ranks. They better fit the profiles of excellent managers described by other employees and bring group skills to play that male managers haven’t the capacity to muster. Also, there is an expectation that they will be TDC’s best “ambassadors” to the world outside of TDC in terms of how they shape TDC’s product offerings, service, and overall responsiveness to customers, men and women. In the end, it’s TDC, not the women who are candidates for positions, that must undergo a radical transformation from a company based on organization charts and individualized responsibility to a more collective model of organization that recognizes women’s value as resources and not as people “outside” clamoring to enter. The research cited is simple but compelling. Still, at the time of the study, among 300 top managers at TDC, only 14 percent were women. iVillage vs. Glam Media NY Post, “Online Catfight: Glam Media Challenges Web Queen iVillage,” June 18, 2007 m Still, it shows how hard the 12-year-old iVillage and other dot-com survivors have to work to stay on top of the online ad space with upstarts like Glam constantly gunning for them. Comstock had hoped a companion TV show, "iVillage Live," would jumpstart traffic, but the site appears to have peaked at a high of 17.7 million visitors since being acquired by NBC.
  • 45. Glam aims to be a younger, more stylish version of iVillage. It owns the flagship, but it also represents more than 300 female-centric Web sites and blogs covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Glam has also struck partnerships with magazine publishers such as Hearst to bring articles from popular magazines like Marie Claire to "It's this combination of authority, as well as a distributed network of publishers, that create the tone and voice that women are looking for," said Samir Arora, Glam's chairman and chief executive. Glam sells ads to big brands including Reebok, Max Factor and Herbal Essences, and it recently struck a deal with Google to sell its small text ads across Glam's network. This is a different model for both users and advertisers than the one espoused by iVillage, which is viewed as an online community for women. IVillage is a centralized site with the vast majority of its traffic coming in through its main homepage. In contrast, Glam aggregates traffic across many sites and gets just a fraction from the flagship IVillage execs said their approach is safer for advertisers, allowing them greater control over the content and placement of their ads than they would have on Glam's sprawling network. "Advertisers run the risk of ending up on sites that they don't have much control over," said iVillage CEO Deborah Fine.
  • 46. Yahoo Marketing to Women Portal, “Yahoo takes ‘Shine’ to women: A source of relevant information,” 6 Apr 2008 Yahoo Inc. is launching a new site for women between ages 25 and 54, calling it a key demographic underserved by current Yahoo properties. Last week's launch of Shine is aimed largely at giving the struggling Internet company additional opportunities to sell advertising targeted to the key decision-maker in many households. Yahoo said advertisers in consumer-packaged goods, retail, and pharmaceuticals have requested more ways to reach those consumers. Amy Florio, vice president for Yahoo Lifestyles, said internal research also shows women are looking for a site to aggregate various content and communications tools. "These women were sort of caretakers for everybody in their lives," she said. "They didn't feel like there was a place that was looking at the whole them - as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter. They were looking for one place that gave them everything." Yahoo is entering a market already served by Glam Media Inc. and iVillage, a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal. It is Yahoo's first site aimed at a single demographic, although other Yahoo sites like Finance and Sports already draw specific audiences. With Shine, Yahoo plans to expand its offerings in parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career and money, entertainment, fashion, beauty, home life, and astrology. In yesterday's Shine Jodie Foster was interviewed.
  • 47. Google WebProNews, “Men are from Google, Women are from Yahoo,” Dec 29, 2005 yahoo On the Internet, as in life, men and women have different motivations for doing what they do. According to a recent report from Pew Internet and American Life, women view the Internet as a place to extend, support, and nurture relationships and communities. Do Different Genders Use The Web Differently Men tend to see it as an office, a library, or a playground--screw the community, this is about function not family. The report found that women are more enthusiastic communicators, using email in a more robust way. Not only sending and receiving more email than men, women are more likely to write to family and friends about a variety of topics, sharing news, joys and worries, planning events, and forwarding jokes and stories. While both sexes equally appreciate the efficiency and convenience of email, women are more likely than men to value the medium for its positive effects on improving relationships, expanding networks, and encouraging teamwork at the office. "Women also value email for a kind of positive, water-cooler effect, which lightens the atmosphere of office life," reads the 54-page report. The report found that women are more likely to use the Internet for emailing, getting maps and directions (after all, we men always know where we're going), looking for health and medical information, seeking support for health and personal problems, and getting religious information. Men tend to be more intense Internet users than women, being more likely to go online daily (61% of men and 57% of women) and more likely to go online several times a day (44% of men and 39% of women). Men also tend to go online in greater numbers than women but for a much broader variety of reasons. Men are more likely to use the Internet to check the weather, get news, find do-it- yourself information, acquire sports scores and information, look for political information, do job- related research, download software, listen to music, rate a product/person/service through an online reputation system, download music, use a webcam, and take a class. Note there was nothing about "nurturing relationships." Marie Claire website, “The Women of Google,” May 2008. Geek-chic set, guess again. Google's lineup of women execs proves that pocket protectors are no longer emblematic of this industry. Overseeing everything from business operations to online sales and product management, these dynamic women are company and community leaders. With one of the best-educated work forces in the world, the company places a high value on continuous learning. Employees regularly enjoy visits from outside speakers; Eve Ensler, Sally Ride, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Diane von Furstenberg, and most of the 2008 presidential hopefuls have all dropped by Google offices. In fact, Google credits much of its success in
  • 48. creating innovative technologies with its emphasis on diversity of perspective, cultures and ideas in the workplace. And then there are the perks — everything from gourmet meals, shuttles, and massages to annual ski trips. Good news for moms-to-be: They offer a generous maternity leave. Click here to learn more about working at Google. Mattel Brandweek, “Tickle Me Barbie: Remaking An Icon,” Nov 14, 2005 A TOUR through my local Toys 'R' Us as the holiday shopping season begins tells a sad story about Barbie, once the world's most favorite doll. Instead of Barbie's signature pink color dominating important front-of-the-store displays, the shelves are black and purple—the colors of Bratz, a pack of dolls that have challenged Barbie's No. 1 position for the past four years. Such dominance on the shelves reveals in Technicolor drama just how much Mattel has failed to fight back against MGA Entertainment, the scrappy little company that launched Bratz in 2001. More importantly, the power of its potent younger rival shows that Mattel still hasn't learned how to make its most important brand, Barbie, relevant to today's 21st century girls. Avon also had to rethink its market position and ask if its products and even its iconic Avon lady were still relevant to a new generation of women. For some, she simply wasn't working. Avon's evaluation led to the creation of an all-new line called "mark," designed for young women who weren't interested in conforming to the notions of beauty promoted by Avon and others over the past 100 years. Nor were they going to be home when the Avon lady came to ring the doorbell. The lessons from McDonald's, Avon and rivals in the toy industry that Mattel must now learn is that young girls today are different enough from the girls of even a decade ago. Yes, they still want to play, dream and evolve. But what used to work with girls doesn't necessarily resonate today. Finding what does work and how Barbie can adapt to this very different world for women and girls is the only way that the iconic brand will survive—and bring back Barbie pink to the toy- store aisles. BuzzMachine, Glam: “The Success of the Network,” Nov 12, 2006.
  • 49. The chart requires some explanation. Bear with me; it’s worth it. The yellow circle on the right represents iVillage, which had been the largest women’s site in the U.S. After only a year and a half, Glam has overtaken it as the new No. 1 with 23 million uniques (vs 18m for iVillage) and 600 million monthly pageviews. iVillage was our deadly competitor when I worked at CondeNet and we often sniped that much of its traffic was junk. This illustrates that: The largest circle inside iVillage is astrology traffic and the dark circle in that represents people who come to iVillage for horoscopes and nothing else. That may bulk up your traffic numbers, but it’s not saleable to advertisers. iVillage is built in the Yahoo model of sites it owns or controls; it tries to lure people in and then bombards them with ads. Glam, represented by the larger circle on the left, is a network. You’ll see clusters made up of smaller circles, representing their content areas: fashion, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, celebrity, teen. Inside each of those clusters, if you squint, you’ll see a small yellow circle. Those are Glam’s O&O (owned and operated) sites. All the many purple circles around those in each cluster represent outside, independent blogs and sites in Glam’s network. That is the secret to Glam’s quick growth without the cost and risk of doing everything itself. Glam finds the good blogs and creates a relationship. It features good content from them on Glam and also sells ads on the blogs, sharing revenue with and supporting those bloggers. It now has about 400 publishers creating about 600 sites and Arora said that some make multiple six figures a year. They’ve fired only one.
  • 50. IKEA IKEA founder calls for more women
  • 51. The founder of Swedish furniture giant Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, wants to see more women in the group's management positions, he said in a documentary to be aired on Swedish television on Tuesday. "We ought to have more women in various management positions, because women are the ones who decide almost everything in the home," Kamprad said, according to excerpts published in daily Dagens Nyheter. "It's very strange that we don't have more women decision-makers and women in positions of power," he said. According to Ikea spokeswoman Charlotte Lindgren, the company today counts 50 percent women among all of its employees globally, while 30 percent of store managers and 20 percent of top management are women. Out of the group's 11 board members, two are women. "In Sweden things are much better. Here there are more female store managers and (women in) top management than men," she told AFP, adding that about 60 percent of such positions are held by women in the Scandinavian country.
  • 52. Toyota, “What Are Automakers Doing for Women? Part II: Toyota Takes an American Approach,” current website Toyota may hail from a country where men make most of the decisions, but its success in the U.S depends on the attention it pays to the tastes and concerns of women buyers. Women purchase about 55 percent of all Toyota vehicles and 60 percent of all Toyota passenger cars sold in the U.S. Consequently, "Women are extremely important to us from a product and marketing standpoint," said Sandi Kayse, Toyota's national advertising manager. While manufacturers don't design cars specifically for women, Toyota, like several other car companies, conducts market research to learn what features women want most. Then it incorporates those features into future models as either standard or optional equipment. What is it about Toyota women find appealing? Not surprisingly, Toyota's focus groups revealed that safety and security are top priorities for women. "When asked what features they want in a car, one of the first things out of women's mouths is, 'airbags,'" Kayse said. "Of course front airbags are mandatory, but women want side-impact and head-protecting curtain airbags."
  • 53. Kayse noted that Toyota's reputation for quality and reliability always comes up in women's focus groups. "For them, reliability is a peace-of-mind issue," she said. "Women want a car that will get them where they're going and not leave them stranded." Other features that appeal to women (especially those with families), she said, are features like power door locks, LATCH child-seat anchors, restraint systems and child-safe window buttons. But women aren't just about safety and security, Kayse said. They're also into styling and interior ergonomics. "Because women tend to be more diminutive in stature, they appreciate things like telescopic steering wheels and grocery-bag hooks in the trunk," Kayse said. "I'm 5-foot-2, and I can't reach the back of the trunk, so it's nice to have hooks to keep the gallon of milk from sliding to the back." How about adjustable pedals? "We do offer adjustable pedals, but quite frankly we get a very low install rate — less than 1 percent of our buyers actually order vehicles with them." Toyota's research also reveals that women are sensitive to noise, vibration and harshness, and are concerned about the comfort of their passengers. The contrast between men's and women's priorities showed up clearly during a recent mixed (male and female) focus group of the new Avalon. "The women were all over the interior of the car, whereas the men looked at the exterior and talked about the sleek styling and the horsepower of the great engine," Kayse said. "The women were all about the 'hosting opportunities' inside of the car — the flat rear floor, the spacious and reclining rear seats, the rear heat/air conditioner vents, and the optional heated front and rear seats. They also liked the easy ingress and egress offered by the wide-opening rear doors, as many of them have to load child seats or are caring for elderly parents." Toyota research also reveals that the environmental-friendliness of hybrids appeals strongly to women, which bodes well for the hybrid Camry that enters production next year. Wooing Women: Advertising To reach out to women, Toyota sticks to traditional marketing methods: placing ads in mainstream media and women's specialty magazines, as well as sponsoring several female athletes, who in turn serve as company spokespeople. This year, the company is promoting its vehicles and its new "Moving Forward" ad campaign by serving as automotive sponsor of Glamour magazine's "Woman of the Year Awards" and O, The Oprah Magazine's "Live Your Best Life Tour." In conjunction with both events, Toyota has created its own "Moving Forward" awards programs to honor women who are working to create positive changes in the world. Winners of the Oprah contest will receive a series of life-coaching seminars, while the three winners of the Glamour contest will win a 2005 Toyota, either a Camry, Prius or Solara. "Some of our vehicles naturally appeal more to women," Kayse said. "We skew our media buys to target the audience the vehicle most appeals to. For instance, in Good Housekeeping we'd place an ad for the Sienna, not the Tacoma. "We don't position any vehicle car as a woman's car. Most of our TV ads include both males and females, because there's the old adage that you can sell a woman a 'man's car,' but once you label something a 'woman's car' you'll never sell it to a man. We have to walk a very fine line to
  • 54. reach out to women while appealing to men at the same time." But Marti Barletta, an expert in marketing to women who has consulted with major automakers, disagrees. "Toyota's use of gender-neutral ads shows they're not understanding one of the fundamentals of advertising and marketing," she said, "which is that you can't talk to all of the people all of the time if you want to appeal to a specific market segment. Women and men care about different things, and you can't address them all effectively in one ad." According to Dr. Michael Bernacchi, professor of marketing at the University of Detroit, the issue isn't Toyota's use of gender-neutral ads. After all, he said, "in Toyota ads, the focus is always on the car, not the people. But the real work needs to be done at the dealership level. Nobody likes to buy a car — it's a heinous experience — least of all women. Toyota has these extraordinary vehicles, but that quality message doesn't carry through to the dealership." Dealerships: Dealmakers or Breakers? Indeed, no matter how appealing a company's cars are, a customer's perceptions of an automaker will be most directly affected by their experience at the dealership. In J.D. Power and Associates' 2004 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, Toyota ranked below the industry average in terms of customer satisfaction with dealership service departments. "Women are better car buyers than men," said Bernacchi. "They're smarter and more astute, and they should be treated and catered to as such." In a recent survey of 500 female customers from six Chicago-area Toyota dealerships, Toyota found that women are much more loyal than men to dealerships where they feel they've been treated right, and are quicker to abandon dealerships where they feel they've been treated poorly. The survey's most surprising finding, according to Greg Kitzens, corporate manager of the Toyota college of dealer education and development, "was that 76 percent of the women surveyed said they brought someone with them [90 percent of whom were male] when they went shopping for a car. Why? Because they thought having a man with them would increase their chances of getting a better deal. "This tells us that women are intimidated by dealerships. So we stress that our salespeople should address the male and female equally; never turn all of their attention to the man, even if he's asking all the questions, when it's the woman who's buying the car. "Our findings reinforce what we've been telling dealerships all along — to treat all customers, male and female alike, with the same courtesy and respect. Women especially want to feel listened to; they tend to ask more questions than men, and they want more thorough answers." The dealership facility also plays a key role in customer perceptions. "Customers place a great deal of importance on the cleanliness and comfort of a dealership," said Nancy Davies, Toyota's vice president of retail market development. To this end, Toyota recently launched "Image USA II," a program aimed at upgrading dealership exteriors and interiors, with special emphasis on customer "touch points." "The idea is to have every aspect of the facility focused on the customer," Davies adds. "We recommend every dealer provide a children's play area in the showroom and a coffee bar in the service area for waiting customers. We also encourage dealers to upgrade their restroom facilities. Focus groups reveal that many customers, especially women, judge a dealership on the cleanliness of its restrooms."
  • 55. Of course, how much of Toyota's philosophy, training and recommendations are actually incorporated into each dealership will vary from location to location. Attesting to this fact is Dawn Carrington of Granite Bay, California, who said she received excellent treatment at three Northern California Toyota dealerships and horrible treatment at another. "Three of the dealerships were outstanding," she said. "The people were very friendly and courteous, and I would recommend them to anyone. "Then a few years ago I was shopping for a Land Cruiser and took a test-drive at a Toyota dealership in San Jose. After the test-drive, the salesman said, 'OK, let's do this deal,' and I said, 'I'm not sure I'm ready to make a decision.' And he actually took the keys to my car and threw them across the desk and said, 'You are wasting my time.' "I was flabbergasted. I told the manager I wouldn't so much as get my car washed at that dealership. He started to chase me to the parking lot, but I said, 'Don't bother.'" Corporate Grassroots Support Outside the dealership, on a corporate level, Toyota USA supports several programs that benefit women's causes. For the past six years, Toyota USA has sponsored and participated in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, Los Angeles' largest fundraiser for women's cancer research. Toyota pays its employees' entry fees and provides matching funds. Last year Toyota's 6,120-member team raised $173,797 — the largest amount ever raised by one team in the event's 11-year history. Toyota also sponsors and participates in the California Governor's Conference on Women and Families, an annual event featuring high-profile speakers and workshops on topics ranging from "How to Balance Family and Career" to "How to Start Your Own Business." Speakers at last year's conference included Maria Shriver, Queen Noor of Jordan, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and two Toyota female group vice presidents. More than 130 Toyota employees and guests attended the event. In addition to women-focused programs, Toyota supports children's safety campaigns, such as SafetyBeltSafe, a national non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety. Women at Toyota: Not Exactly the Fast Lane While Toyota espouses "moving forward" in its ad campaigns, how actively does it encourage women within its own ranks to move up to leadership positions? The answer, partly, is in the numbers. At Toyota's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, California, women hold 21 of the 77 upper-management positions (corporate manager level or above); men hold 56. Unlike several other major automakers, Toyota has never appointed a woman to head a division. As is the case industry-wide, women Toyota dealers are in the minority. Of the 1,462 Toyota and Lexus dealerships operating in the U.S., only 38 — 2.6 percent — are wholly owned by women. Women have a financial interest in another 166 dealerships (for a total of 13/9%). Moving Forward…Slowly While Toyota has long sought women's input on vehicle design, it is just beginning to address
  • 56. their treatment at the most crucial contact point of all — the dealership. And while the company has shown increasing support of women and women's causes, it lags in terms of acknowledging women's importance as decision makers within its own ranks. The Japanese transplant is making steady progress, but it still has miles to go.