The poorly thought-out tech product for women hardly needs an introduction. Rare is the week that goes by without a company (or a Kickstarter) deciding that there just aren’t enough products for women amid the macho-dominated technology landscape and rolling out a new pink monstrosity.
It’s probably unfair to say that many of the most offensive products targeted at women cropped up because someone’s wife, girlfriend, or mom casually complained once that her smartphone wouldn’t do what she wanted, and suddenly she needed a solution tailored to her feminine ways—but it’s easy to envision that backstory for many of them.
Products that target women tend to fall into three basic problem categories through flaws of logic and, in some cases, morality.
Problem 1: Looks like a “woman’s product”
The simplest tactic used to target women is giving the product a stereotypically feminine design—pink, purple, sparkly, curvy, and so on. Contrary to popular belief, women are not biologically wired to like stuff that is pink or tiny or pretty. Some, however, are culturally wired for these things, as history and research on product segmentation show. They’ve been conditioned to believe pink and delicate things are made for them because the two are so often linked, and eventually this conditions what they choose for themselves. But that does not necessarily make it okay to reinforce this coding through your product marketing.
This pink coding is different from simply making something available in pink. Apple’s rainbow of iPod nanos is one thing; releasing a smartphone in black and then some months later in pink is another, more insidious, thing.
Everyone realized quickly that the Dell Della laptop was… not the smartest move.
Take Dell’s Della notebook, which was an Inspiron 10 Mini in pastels swaddled in marketing that involved calorie counting tips. Nokia made a special female-centric ad for its Lumia 800, and then there were the BIC For Her pens. There are plenty of people pointing out how absurd these things are, so if you haven’t already learned those lessons, I recommend reading up.