A well-known company, one that traditionally targets men, sent me a catalog, and it's clear from the cover that this company has decided to switch gears and directly target women. The headline on the catalog is "Her Point of View" and the cover art features an abstract illustration of a woman holding a dress. Interested, I opened the catalog to see what new products are available.
Imagine my distaste when I opened the catalog and saw the same products that appear in ALL their catalogs, with a few minor changes, evidently made to make the items appealing to women. For example, they have added photographs of landscapes, and lighthearted illustrations of fruit. Some of the products are now pink on the outside. The marketing spin has changed too: descriptions in the catalog include words like "whimsical" and "slim" and "stunning."
None of the products have any meaningful features that would make them appealing to women. This company took their standard product line, which was developed years ago for corporate-type men, threw in some pink, marketed the line as "Her Point of View," and expected us to start buying. Ummm, no thanks!
Let me tell you a story. When I first started momAgenda, I worked with an important day planner/journal manufacturing company. As the process got further along, I insisted on certain details, such as the layout with space for mom and 4 kids, and the colors on the pages, and the quotes, and the space for lists and vacation planning and all those other things that make momAgenda different. Long story short, this manufacturer decided to stop working with me. He thought we should just take his traditional day planner (one that was designed by a man about 50 years ago) and slap a pretty cover on it and we could all make money and go home.
Wrong. Women, especially women with kids, needed a day planner that would accommodate their crazy lives, and their need to manage multiple schedules in one place. Slapping a pink cover on a traditional product that was designed by and for men, wouldn't help moms.
So when I see big companies trying to appeal to women by slapping on a big splash of pink, or by adding lighthearted illustrations of women drinking coffee together, I just want to throw something. (This is the point where my husband clears the room and removes all sharp objects from my line of vision.) Why is it so hard for companies to research women's lives and needs and develop products that make our lives easier?
As a friend on twitter pointed out, there is a bright side, which is that their loss is my gain. Our business exists to make women's lives easier, and to the extent that big companies don't do the same, we will continue to be successful in our little niche.
What about you? What do you think about the way big companies target women with superficial details rather than products that could meaningfully help women?