Dell decided to target women with a section within their website dedicated to their computer needs: Della. When the site originally launched, according to this NY Times blog entry, it “featured tech ‘tips’ that recommended calorie counting, finding recipes and watching cooking videos as ways for women to get the most from a laptop.” Wow, did they look up female stereotypes and plug in everything that fell into that category? I am surprised that a brand as large (and as experienced with customer service issues) as Dell can make a gaffe like this when targeting women. To think that women only need a computer for diet tips and recipes is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Women revolted:
“But the approach may have done more harm than good: A backlash erupted online, as both women and men described the Web site as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘gimmicky’ and, as one disgruntled Facebook member wrote on Dell’s Facebook page, ‘Lamest move ever!’
The resounding blowback prompted the company to amend the Web site, along with a note that stated, ‘Some of you have read this article over the last several days & will notice a few modifications. You spoke, we listened. Thank you for your ongoing feedback.’”
I didn’t see the site when it originally launched, but I think that it does a nice job of selling the product features and benefits now, without being too girly. By far, the smartest thing included on the site is a section on giving. With the purchase of Promise Pink netbook or PC, Dell gives a portion of the proceeds to the Komen Foundation. And, there is information on how to recycle old/unwanted technology. I can’t put my fingers on the statistic right now, but I have seen statistics that brands willing to give money/goods for products purchased are more likely to get a woman’s money.
Dell saved themselves by listening to consumer feedback and immediately making changes to the site. They deserve kudos for that. But really, they shouldn’t have made such a mistake with the site launch.
For those who still want to argue against the influence of women on the future and their impact online, check this out :
“…42 million women in the United States (roughly 53% of the 79 million adult women in the United States who use the Internet) participate in social media at least weekly. As they spend more time with social media, women are spending correspondingly less time with traditional media: 39% less on newspapers, 36% less time reading magazines, and 30% less time watching TV.” (source)
“The women who post to blogs are the most actively engaged. They spend the most time online. Over 80% also participate in social networks like Facebook, and over one third of bloggers also participate in Twitter. But more to the point, those who blog are more likely to be tech savvy, on the leading edge of trends, and invest time searching for new products online.” (source)
These stats are the result of a survey conducted by Blogher in March 2009. We already know that more women are online than men. And now we know how engaged they are in the online space and how influential they can be on each other: women reported that they are significantly more likely to make a purchase decision based on customer experiences reported on blogs. They are relying on blogs for information on politics and news, technology/gadgets, cars and business/career/personal finance. They are relying on their social networks for social activism, sex/relationship/dating, entertainment and shopping.
Any marketer targeting women should be leveraging the influence of blogs and social networks to communicate brand and product messages, as well as news and information.
I have been reading The XX Factor blog on Slate for several months now and I really like it. It is smart, funny and not the overdone stereotypical female voice. This is not a mommy-blogger site or a fashion site or a celebrity stalker site. But they talk about mom stuff, fashion and celebrities. And they talk about politics, current events and pop culture. The blog has been received such a great response that they are turning it into its own site: Double X. Here’s a brief description from The New York Times today:
“To turn the blog into a full-fledged Web magazine, the site will draw from a number of contributors to include commentary and critiques of popular culture, film and television, home design and family life, along with features like personal narratives from women on surviving the recession. Double X has also formed a partnership with Google to offer a news feed focused on women on the site.”
Check it out.
Colleges and universities are finally dipping their toes into the waters of technology. Last month, I noted that students learn better from listening to a lecture podcast than from attending class. Last week, the Missouri School of Journalism announced that incoming students are required to purchase an iPhone or an iPod Touch so they can download lectures from iTunes. MU already encourages journalism students to use Apple computers. As one can imagine, some students are not happy about the requirements. Regardless of the choice of brand (although I am fan of Apple, of course), I am glad that MU recognizes the need to be on the forefront of technology and understands that teaching and learning methods have evolved. Not all journalism schools are so progressive. This is what led to our creation of SWIM: we were interviewing students who had no understanding of the impact social media can have on marketing and communications. Our SWIM sessions are also available for download as podcasts on iTunes.
Also on the university and technology front: six universities will be part of a pilot program with the new Kindle DX. Students at these universities will receive the Kindle DX instead of the traditional pile of text books. The schools participating in the program are: Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, Pace University and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.