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December 19, 2011
Changing Technology Retail Design: How to Capture Female Buyers
 
Fashion brands are in the business of using visual merchandising to make meaningful consumer connections and inciting “buy behavior.” They approach merchandise design as an opportunity to guide consumer behavior and reinforce brand image in the brick-and-mortar world.
 
Technology retail design, on the other hand, hasn’t yet caught on to the value of similar display aesthetics. With a few notable exceptions (Apple and Sony being two), technology brands continue to produce bland, homogenous ways of “showcasing” their products in both flagship stores and via other retail/e-tail channels.
 
XX-Factor Wiring
Not acknowledging the importance of presentation throughout the consumer shopping experience alienates technology retailers’ most financially significant consumers — women. Women purchase 57% of consumer electronics, accounting for $80 billion in consumer dollars. This degree of influence provides a compelling business case for putting women’s preferences and shopping considerations at the forefront of their design strategies. These considerations include:
  • Women’s communication styles
  • Their decision-making processes
  • Their design aesthetics (images, graphics, colors, etc.)
  • Their propensity towards simple, graphic-oriented designs
Navigating the Female Circuit
Since women are largely responsible for purchasing items for others in their households, they approach the shopping experience differently than do men. Therefore, it follows that retailers design spaces according to how women buy. According to Kelly Mooney, president of Resource Interactive, women are influenced first by lifestyle and then by the product.
 
Andrea Learned, author of Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy, says that women make layered observations when pondering purchasing decisions. For example, they may ask: Will this product fit in my house? Who will use this product? Is this product safe to use around my kids? Retailers would do well to craft their messaging and design around highlights of what women really want to know, and insure that their shopping experience is positive. To this end, technology retail giant Best Buy recently recruited a panel of 40 women to inform the design of a flagship store made for women and by women.
 
Fashion-Forward Application
Because many tech brands depend on retail distributors to help them claim profits, their integrity and identity are vulnerable to shoulder-brushing competitors all vying for consumer attention. For this reason, retail displays play a major role in forging emotional connections with their consumers. Looking to the fashion boutique as an example, technology retailers can see how well-designed presentations help maintain the integrity of a brand despite the use of a multi-brand platform.
 
Using fashion retail as a blueprint, retailers can tap into the power of atmospherics to influence women’s consumer buying decisions and help them experience technology brands in a more positive and differentiating way. 

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Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive 83% of purchase decisions. She nurtures emerging brands and strengthens iconic ones through powerful design, insight, and a deep understanding of the female shopper. PixInk's microagency structure works extremely well for iconic yet nimble brands such as Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Cat Footwear, Riverbed, Camel, Sephora, and Picaboo, among others.
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