Ian Dodds Consulting Change Font size:

December 2010 Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice
There are big incremental revenue benefits available to producers and retailers who understand and address women’s design preferences
The global women’s market is the largest Emerging Market: “$5 trillion of incremental spending over the next several years – the global women’s market is larger than the commercial potential represented by the growth of the consumer economics of India and China” (Silverstein & Sayre, Boston Consulting Group (BGC), 2009). I opened a presentation at a recent Marketing Conference on ‘Gender and In-store Aesthetics’ with this statement. My co-presenter was Gloria Moss, an academic who has done 15 years of painstaking and groundbreaking research on gender preferences in design. Gloria’s research started with examining design feature differences in paintings by men and women. It has broadened to encompass gender preference differences in website design, product design, product layouts in retail outlets and aspects of store designs. Gloria has demonstrated that there are distinct design preference differences between men and women and her research has shown that statistically these are at a high level of reliability.
Moreover, women are responsible for 83% of consumer purchases (Barletta, 2006). Yet the people who design the products they purchase and the associated packaging and promotional materials are overwhelmingly male, e.g. only 21% of Graphics Members of the Chartered Society of Designers and 12% of the Fellows are women; only 8% of its Product Design Members and 8% of Fellows are women; only 17% of  its Creatives in Advertising are women.
The principal design preference differences demonstrated by the research are:-
Men prefer:                                                               Women prefer:
Straight lines                                                            Rounded lines
Dark colours                                                             Brighter colours
3-dimensional imagery                                          2-dimensional imagery
Less detailing                                                          More detailing
Greater seriousness                                              More light heartedness
Images of men                                                         Images of women
Inanimate images                                                   Animate images
Research indicates that very few retailers take account of these preference differences with much product and retail design being aligned with the male preferences. We believe that there are very significant incremental sales benefits to be won by those producers and retailers who do begin to offer designs that meet the preference needs of their female shoppers. “The Companies that really get women and respond to their unmet needs with skill, nuance and genuine engagement will enjoy breakaway growth, unprecedented customer loyalty and category dominance” (Silverstein & Sayre, BCG, 2009). Need I say more! Remember also: “today’s woman is the chief purchasing agent of the family and marketers have to recognize that” (Silverstein 2003).
We offer consultancy support to enable producers and retailers get their designs right for women and would be very pleased to answer any queries about this.
Dr Ian Dodds,
29 Nov 2010

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