Women on the web
In 1995 only 5% of internet users were women.
It’s easy to understand why there weren’t many female
adopters in the early days of the web. It was just a massive
store of information, in effect a huge library so why would we
bother? Whilst men may (in a pub-quiz, top-five loving,
Nick Hornby sty-le) enjoy delving through endless reams of
information, there is nothing compelling about facts.
Whether gathering dust on shelves or whizzing about in the
ether, facts on their own don’t spread.
Now the web has evolved and become an enabler, a connecting force and story creator
- it has truly been given a place in the lives of women. And the stats reflect this, with us
now accounting for 50% of Internet users.
In ‘Inside her pretty little head’ Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts identify key
areas that motivate women. Under the guise of ‘codes’ they propose that to motivate
women you must appeal to at least one of these to resonate with the female psyche.
Specifically the four areas identified are Altruism, Aesthetic, Ordering and Connecting.
Bearing these four codes in mind, has there ever been a medium more suited to women
than the web?
It provides freedom from hassle and the ability to save time with online shopping,
reassurance through research and comparison sites (all appealing to the Ordering code),
in-depth learning and detail (Altruism code), as well as enabling the quick and easy
passing all of this information and opinion on to family, friends or anyone that’s
listening (Connecting and Altruism codes).
The web is now seemingly built for chatting and sharing, gathering and exchanging –
and that’s why women are thriving online.
As a result of this alignment of web-functionality and innate female drivers, a multitude
of female sites are springing up.
Our primary view of the world is not a competitive but collaborative one – thus the
connectivity, personalisation and sharing aspects of web 2.0 enable these to happen
better, quicker and further than ever before. From shopping and chatting, to communities
and gossip – these all serve a thread of the female codes. No longer are lone women sat
isolated at kitchen tables; they are online, sharing, advising, commenting. In essence
doing as they always have done, but on a wider, global scale.
Combining this with a growing awareness of the female influence on purchase decisions
– us women as the purse holders - means we are driving innovation within the digital
Illustration: Spider woman by cho
space, creating apps to further service our needs.
Taking the hassle out of the weekly shop and suggesting dinner menus was just the
start, as the latest addition to online fashion retailer Zappos, MyZappos service shows.
It now provides a virtual closet of identified possible purchases, which friends on Face-
book and followers on Twitter can view, comment and advise. Using social media groups
to recreate the in-store ‘shopping with a friend’ reassurance – in an easy, accessible
way. You get to virtually try before you buy.
One quote I heard (though irritatingly can’t remember where from) was ‘There will be
no Web 3.0 – social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace will be the web’.
This places the web firmly as a channel to aid and be embraced by females – open,
social exchange is where we thrive. The web is not a means unto itself but a channel
Author: through which our normal social behaviours can be amplified. It’s not changing our
behaviours, just making them easier and faster to happen.
So keep a look out, for a continuing rise of women online not only changes marketing
tactics but also the shape and functions of the space itself.
To find out more about how we focus on what matters, get in touch - email firstname.lastname@example.org