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.