Study: Women like tech toys more than shoes

By Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY
August 1, 2006

NEW YORK — Is a plasma TV a girl's new best friend?

An Oxygen Network survey released Tuesday found that more than three out of four women said they'd choose the TV over a diamond solitaire necklace. Women preferred a top-of-the-line cellphone to designer shoes by a similar margin. And a little white iPod narrowly trumped a little black dress.

These are among the results of the Girls Gone Wired survey by market researcher TRU for Oxygen. TRU surveyed 1,400 women and 700 men 15 to 49 years old to compare tech attitudes among the sexes.

The findings suggest advertisers need to address a broad audience and not talk down to women. Advertisers are best served communicating lifestyle benefits of tech products by showing what's useful about them, rather than focusing on specifications, Oxygen says.

"There have been some missed opportunities to market consumer electronics to women," says Steve Koenig, senior manager of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, whose research reveals only subtle differences between the sexes in their attitudes toward technology.

In the Oxygen survey, 59% of women agreed with the statement "Women are much more tech savvy than they give themselves credit for." Among the men, just 38% agreed.

"Men and women are equally competent in the technology arena," says Oxygen CEO Geraldine Laybourne.

Katie Richardson, 25, a project manager for an elevator company in Chicago, says family members come to her for help setting up iTunes or fixing a digital camera. "I love figuring out all the different functions," she says.

Still, just 35% of women agreed that "most of the time people rely on me for technology help," vs. 54% of men.

However tech-savvy they are, women are typically the decision makers when it comes to buying.

"From every piece of data we've seen, by and large, household budgets are controlled by women," says Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a prominent venture-capital investment firm. But they are "far more oriented toward solutions rather than tools."

Kristen McDonnell, CEO of LimeLife, a producer of mobile content for women 15 to 35, agrees. "Women are power users of the Internet now in terms of MySpace pages, e-commerce and photo sharing."

New York City College of Technology radiology student Shavonn Tatum, 26, is passionate about gadgets. "I love technology and can't wait to graduate so I can buy things I really want," she says.

Comparing Computer Use
Percentage of people who regularly use the computer to:
Shop online64%60%
Edit digital pictures53%48%
Access online health services35%22%
Listen to music60%72%
Listen to or view Internet media streams45%69%
Watch DVDs35%54%
Access porn online6%38%
Source: Oxygen

Copyright 2006 USA Today

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