June 2010 Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice
Ensuring your products and services mirror the preferences of your customers rather than your senior managers
Women have a decisive say in a high proportion of purchase decisions and there are relatively few markets where the same can be said for men, asserts Gloria Moss in her excellent and ground breaking book ‘Gender Design and Marketing – How Gender Drives our Perception of Design and Marketing’. She describes this as”a stark reality which many organisations may not yet grasp”.
Of course, many of the decisions about product and service design, advertising and marketing to both genders are made by men. In this connection, Gloria Moss’s research, described in this book, shows that in design and advertising men have a preference for images which include moving objects, technical objects, the printed word and male caricatures. Whereas, women have a tendency to prefer static objects, plant life, smiling faces and female caricatures. More specifically, the book examines a considerable body of research which demonstrates that, in terms of design of products, advertisements or web sites, men and women differ in the following ways:
Shapes – a greater tendency for women than men to prefer round shapes.
Colours – a tendency for women to prefer colourfulness
Typography – a tendency for women to prefer less conventional and less regular typography than men.
Caricatures – a tendency for each gender to prefer to see representations of people of their own gender.
Originality – a tendency for men to prefer more conventionality than women.
Hence, targeting male and female customers using designs for products and promotions which are preferable to each gender is critical, particularly in markets where the purchasing is dominated by a particular gender.
Gloria Moss acknowledges that achieving “good congruence between product and customer preferences may not be a simple process”. This is because it is influenced by the innate preferences of senior management and of others across the workforce. Recently there has been an explosion in training on unconscious bias, i.e. innate preferences, in the workplace to address the underrepresentation of women and minority ethnic people in senior management and to drive a high performance culture that engages everyone equally, whatever their diversity. Of course, this requires the transformation of organisational cultures from white male meritocracies to ones that are meritocratic to all. Such a transformation cannot be achieved by a one-off training fix. It needs a strategic change management intervention, which is the way IDC approaches it with its clients (see IDC Feb 2010 Best Practice: “Address unconscious bias and get the accompanying performance gains”).
However, we strongly believe that it is just as important for organisations to address the impact of unconscious bias on the customer/client/service user interface to meet gender, and other affinity group, preferences in order to leverage sales or service performance. Our knowledge of the topic, association with Gloria Moss and indepth experience of how to engineer culture change means that we are ideally placed to help you with this new imperative.
Dr Ian Dodds
27 May 2010
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The critical success factors for an effective diversity intervention
Take an honest look at your business culture from a diversity perspective
Understanding what areas of diversity and inclusion already work in your business culture