Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

Aug 16

Written by: John Sciacca
8/16/2012 12:28 PM  RssIcon

I’ve read the news, I’ve heard the reports and studies and I’ve seen the figures claiming the billions of dollars women spend on tech and how they are a major factor in influencing the majority of technology buying decisions. And while I absolutely believe in the importance of engaging women in the system design and buying process, and have no doubt that they are a major influence on the money being spent, I’m just not sure I totally buy into these assertions.

In my years of experience selling audio/video systems to men, women, families and couples of all combinations of sexes, I have to say that women rarely feel the same way about tech that men do. Oh, they are interested in the look for sure. They don’t want wall clutter and they want the speakers to line up with the can lighting. And they are interesting in the ergonomics of the control. And they might even select a higher-end speaker or display, but it often has far more to do with a product’s aestheticsthan its performance.

But for the most part, when women choose to be involved in the buying decisions and design process, they are typically there in more of a voice-of-reason, “Do we really need to spend that much? Let’s just get the smaller/cheaper one. It’ll be good enough,” capacity.

Sure, that’s probably a sexist generalization, and I’ve no doubt that there are tons of women out there that dream about blowing every dollar of their paycheck on a giant speaker system or on a video screen so big that it’s an affront to God or who want nothing more than to settle into a dark room with a glass of scotch and a Blu-ray set to reference volume level. It’s just that I’ve never run across one. Far more common is one woman I know – an editor of a tech publication, no less – that watches movies and TV on a 13-inch laptop screen.

No question, women love movies and music and TV, but the tech that delivers the experience – iPad, laptop, 32-inch LCD or 100-inch front projection system – is far less important to the X chromosome set.

Earlier, this week my fellow-Resi blogger, Heather Sidorowicz, wrote a blog titled “The Man Cave is Extinct.” While the principal point of Heather’s story was that many audio/video design and installation are moving away from the dedicated spaces of basement and room-over-garage – Man Cave – theaters and transitioning into multi-purpose, lifestyle spaces like family rooms (a trend that I totally agree is happening, by the way) she also felt that – as custom installers and system designers – “We need to be able to speak not just to the husband, but the family. We need to create the system that is perfect for them.”

And I agree. We definitely should engage the entire family and create systems perfect for everyone to enjoy and easy to operate. (I’ll also say I despise the term “Man Cave.” I hate it. I hate the exclusionary/isolationist image that it conjures.)

And I’m in no way disputing that women love tech. My wife has a far more advanced cell-phone than I do and utilizes her address book and organizer features to a way greater extent than I do. And she loves watching movies and TV. (Music listening less so. Especially in the mornings. Especially on the weekends.) Even our 5 1Ž2-year old daughter is embracing tech. She has mostly taken over our iPad and loves playing games and drawing and making movies of herself. She also loves using our Kaleidscape system to view the movies in her collection. She’s also a huge fan of TV. “Daddy, I don’t even care what we’re watching; I just love to watch TV!”

But the tech – cool as it is, and, believe me, our home has practicallyall of it – really isn’t important to them. A ton of cool tech cycles in through our home as I review different products, and rarely does it make much of an impact short of, “When are you going to move those boxes out of the dining room?”

Our home features two viewing environment extremes; in one room – the multi-purpose living room system – we have a 9.1 channel audio system with 60-inch Elite Plasma and 115-inch 2.35:1 aspect front projector system and in the other – our bedroom – we have a 46-inch LCD on the wall with no audio system. For me, I wouldn’t consider watching anything of any importance in the bedroom. However my wife and daughter are equally happy with either system. The picture size and superior audio and video quality – while entertaining – are really unimportant to them.

Selling to men is easy. Show them something big, loud and impressive and that’s sure to one-up any of their buddies who happen to come over and you’re probably more than 80 percent of the way there.

On Venus, priorities are different. “So big and bright you’ll go blind!” and, “Massive bass that will melt your insides!” doesn’t usually cut it. The trick to being successful is finding out what is important to the women in our lives – personally and professionally – and what resonates with them and what tech appeals to them. Answer those questions and make that connection and you’ll end up with happier clients. Whatever planet they come from.
John Sciacca is principal of Custom Theater and Audio in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Tags: Women , Men , Tech

5 comment(s) so far...


Re: Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

As a woman and veteran in the CE industry, I concur. It’s not a stereotype—Women generally don’t care about the guts of technology the way men do. They didn’t care when they were girls either.
Retailers have done a stellar job selling to women by targeting men. Business 101 is appeal to your base. I’m a consultant who works with CE dealers and manufacturers on how to upsell guy stuff to women. As part of my on going research, I went and worked in a big box store so I could interview hundreds of women.
Both sexes agree that technology is great. They don’t always agree about what’s cool. The proliferation of gadgets in a women’s everyday life has made it easier to have a sales conversation with the word technology in it. Women are already using everything the dealer sells in one size or another. Some of the right questions aren’t about the scope of the job as much as where each piece fits into her priorities.
And while she can be more interested in the outside of a product than the inside it’s paramount to her that her salesman loves the gizzards of the products he’s pitching. She just doesn’t want to hear the details. Better if the salesmen explains how he became an expert.
There are only two sexes so of course women are important to the bottom line. Today’s woman will readily tell you she doesn’t care about…in the same way her husband/partner/brother/son does, BUT she has demands on how you sell to her.
About that “Man Cave”… I discovered women were thrilled to support the cause (if there was room in the house) and even let go of the purse strings. They were more than willing to pay to send their men off to Mars for a while.

By molly gibson on   8/16/2012 7:38 PM

Re: Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

This is kind of old news. Three or four years ago our industry was trying to get us to drink the Koolaid but luckily I never bought-in. It was a good try but it goes to show you that you can not write a bunch of stuff and "will" things to happen I guess. Not in this industry anyway. This is a good article but it would have been stronger about 4 years ago when everyone was preaching these lies!

By Scott Huffman on   8/17/2012 12:00 AM

Re: Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

Superb article. Well-written, witty, and on-the-nose. It's not "old news" when you factor in John's comments about smartphones and iPads. I know many women who are more advanced with that kind of tech than their significant others, but are uninterested in the big A/V toys. (They love the images and sounds from the toys, but they're uninterested in the toys themselves.) Some readers simply cannot be pleased, but keep churning these nuggets out, because I bet the vast majority love them. I do.

By Charles Thompson on   8/17/2012 9:18 AM

Re: Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

Venus and Mars, Useful and Gadgets, XX and X/Why

First – Scott is correct, this article is "old news." But it's not because the industry did something four years ago -- something else happened four years ago: "It's the economy . . ." Either way, this story is as old as when humans started walking the Earth, and the premise will never change. In 2212 the topic will still be, "Mine is bigger than yours," vs. "But what does it do for me?" In better words, big and loud vs. straight forward benefits.

A distinction should be drawn between what is "tech," or more correctly "gadgets," and technology that becomes an integral part of our lifestyle with clear benefits.

When the technology called the telephone came out every women had guys pulling wire throughout the house so they could have one in every room (after the party-line ended). Too bad Cat 5e wasn't around so they could have pulled a bundle.

The iPad and smartphones aren't "tech." They are devices that have made a major impact in the way we communicate, do work, schedule and organize our days, consume information and if we choose — be entertained. If these were purely entertainment devices, I don't think women would have embraced them at this level -- certainly not at that price point. Guys on the other hand would have purchased them like Xboxes.

So to say some women are more "tech savvy," because they know more about the ins and outs of those devices is not accurate. They aren't looking to see how the thing is built — they don't care. But they are going to figure out how to get the most out of the aspects available to benefit them the most. That is just smart.

The proliferation of large flat panel TVs in America's homes would never have happened if the form factor wasn't acceptable to women (including me). The government DTV transition would have been stalled forever if we were just replacing huge black boxes. The two of those events came about perfectly. Someone (many organizations) was thinking.

I have heard too many integrators say they installed an amazing control system with multiroom audio and lighting control throughout a home only to go back and plunk a Bose Wave radio and regular light switch in the kitchen for "the wife." Shame on them. That is because they over complicated the user interface so that it takes a "techy husband" to operate the thing. Just because "you can," doesn’t' mean you should. The "last 4 years" probably has had its way with those integrators. Fortunately there are many whom understand the true benefits control systems offer and are still in business today.

The fact will always remain that men and women are different. Some of us women do like all of the techy stuff and there are some guys who don't. But generally — the stereotype holds true. And that's okay.

Molly, you shouldn't have tipped our hat to letting on about the fact women like the "Man Cave." How else would there be peace on Earth?

As usual John — love reading your work and hearing your opinions.

— Former editor-in-chief of Electronic House magazine. Current editor-in-chief of TechDecisions Media. I am now on the commercial side where Venus and Mars are now Jupiter and Saturn.

By Cindy Davis on   8/18/2012 12:32 PM

Re: Women Are From Venus, Men Love Tech

Poignant and well stated, however My spin is you have to communicate with them on the same level with tech, as you do with anything else. They just want to know you're listening.
'They just want you to want to buy the lemons.'
Make sense to them, let them know that you have honestly heard all of their concerns and you'll have no problem selling to them.
Affirming the fact that you're probably not going to sell them the biggest display or the loudest sound system, once fully engaged (usually post-sale), the female of a household is your best long-term client and referral base.
Sometimes that sale you make to them is one you hadn't originally thought of.
Recent case in point...have a client(her) that wasn't really engaged in the project (of some decent six figures) until I brought up the possibility of a roof-top theater. She hasn't stopped asking me about it since. She's so damn excited, that she's gotten me excited about demoing it when it's done. That actually hasn't happened for me in a long time.
Btw it added a 5 figure change-order to the job.
So I say, "Rock on Venus"!
Mars, keep your ears and minds open.

By Mike Ross on   8/20/2012 11:24 AM

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