The Elephant in the Mobile Industry’s Room: Women


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The Elephant in the Mobile Industry’s Room: Women

  1. 1. The Elephant in the Mobile Industry’sRoom: Womenby GRAHAM BROWN on FEBRUARY 16, 2012Here’s a challenge: name one woman who won an Academy Award Oscar for “Best Director”.You’ll struggle because, amazingly, there has only been 1 winner of from the last 85 awards.(c) Flickr Peter HellbergAnd herein lies the problem of female representation in the creative sectors – it’s non-existent. Andlikewise, you’ll struggle to find any significant female representation in the creative output of the techindustry. That’s why the industry commissions design agencies to produce pink phones and silly researchpieces that suggest women buy mobile phones to take pictures of babies (cue ad agency JWT).The 5 Mistakes Mobile Makes with WomenWhen the mobile industry tries to cater for 50% of its market it repeats the following mistakes: 1. Create female versions of their products (pink fascias) 2. Create mobile phones for women (pink phones with soft edges) 3. Hire ad agencies to create a female narrative (the agencies are all run by men) 4. Run focus groups full of women or create online market research communities for women 5. Do everything apart from immerse themselves in the life of a young female
  2. 2. Being overlooked also presents massive opportunity. Disruptive Divas are a key Beachhead for Blackberrybut by failing to support this market RIM has effectively opened the door for Nokia to build its ownBeachhead. Nokia, however, seems intent on hunting down cool, hipster males who are already pre-occupied with Apple. The Diva market, therefore, is open for business and here’s why you need to care:The Change AgentsFemales drive change and in this equation it’s men that are the weakest link in the technological chain.Take a look at the data:  It was young females in Japan who created the first documented version of “txtspk” known as gyarumoji or pokekotoba in the mid 90s.  It was young females in Japan who created the first mobile messaging system by corrupting the public Dengon Dial system in 1993-1994.  The average mobile gamer is female  Females drive the mobile internet, particularly in emerging markets like the Philippines and Thailand  Females are key drivers of discovery: young Disruptive Divas drive Blackberry and the emergence of BBM; 77% of Groupon’s customers are female; 65% of Chegg (the digital text book) renters are female.And, here’s why we need them. Not only do females discover these technologies, they are also critical inthe generation of Earned Media. Females educate and recommend more:  Females rely on face-to-face recommendation more than males meaning they are more likely to recommend through existing real-world trusted networks  Females are key brand advocates, with the most active fans being up to 100x more influential than the average customer.When the mobile industry looks to its future they need look no further than the 50% of the market thataccounts for the majority of influence, education and grass-roots innovation – young females. But,winning this market isn’t about employing your creative agency to conjure up a fuzzy ad campaignaimed at women or a design agency to create pink phones. No, winning this market means breaking downthese walls that isolate mobile brands from their female usersMaking ChangeWhen the Girl Scouts reformed their badge system in 2012, what were the chances that founder JulietGordon in 1912 could have envisaged an organization that trained young females in marketing, mobileappdevelopment, social innovation or savvy shopping?
  3. 3. Our ideas about women, especially the next generation of women are changing. They aren’t just the baby-photo-taking hordes (sure they still do this, as do the fathers) but increasingly also key change agentswithin tech industries. In our research we highlight the pivotal role of Disruptive Divas – the youngfemale change agents core to the growth of mobile brands. It’s these fans that have kept Blackberry aliveand it’s also the same fans that could provide Nokia with a future roadmap to recovery.The Elephant in the RoomBut, there’s a catch. We can’t harness the power of the Change Agents unless we too can change and it’shere the technology-marketing complex becomes unstuck. I suggest one of the reasons the mobileindustry continues to produce serial disasters aimed at the female market is because of the followstatistic: only 3% of ad agency creative directors are women. These are the same organizationsadvising mobile brands on 50% of their market.The Elephant in the mobile industry’s room is the mobile industry itself. How can the industry partnerwith the advertising industry when advertisers have less female representation than women havein Arab states? (4% of seats in Arab parliaments are occupied by women). This fact won’t changeovernight.Lose the Beards in PolonecksWhat the mobile industry needs to do is free itself of the yoke of the creative sector, focus groups andmarket research communities that isolate it from real female change agents. Lose the beardy polo necksfrom the ad and creative agencies that wax nostalgic about Madmen and getting drunk with the boys afterwinning a Cannes Lions. Instead, replace them with front line exposure. Amazon acquiredZappos and Quidsi (parent company of and launched “Amazon Mom” last year because itknows within the current setup the machine of the organization creates walls that remove insight fromdecision. You don’t have to acquire a company to do this, you can simply fire your ad and creative agency.You can introduce immersion (the 3H as we identify in the mobileYouth report) and build PermissionAssets to help reduce the distance between decision maker and change agent.It’s pretty obvious from my name – Graham Brown – that I am not a woman. I don’t have the answers towhat women want. That, my friends, has been a mystery to men since the dawn of time. What I’m hopingto impress upon you is that experts don’t have the answer, you have to get that from your femalecustomers. You need to create a platform for this to happen in real life, in the 3H, as an observer andcurator not controller of their dialogue.Like the Girl Scouts have willingly acknowledged, times and the role of women have changed. Radically.Staying relevant means not just upgrading your handset range but also upgrading the machine that madethem.PS: The winner of Best Director, in case you were wondering, was Karen Bigelow for Hurt Locker.
  4. 4. Contact us for report, workshops, webinars and more:Josh DhaliwalDirector, mobileYouthhttp://www.mobileYouth.orghttp://www.mobileYouthReport.comTel: +44 203 286 3635Mob: +44 7904 200 513