I’ve never really been a fan of the color pink. If you look thru my childhood pictures you’ll find me wearing pink clothes (chosen by my lovely mom) but in every one of those pictures you also find my head slightly dipped down, defiantly looking into the camera and pouting. Not a happy bunny. As soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions regarding clothes, pink was banished from my wardrobe. I don’t think I’m the only one of my gender who doesn’t like pink. A quick survey of my friends (and I made sure to have a sampling of engineers and the artsy types) showed that only a small handful were actually fans of the color.
Why am I talking about pink? Because all of a sudden pink has become the new black and is all the rage for products targeting women this year. The most notable product introduced this year was a car designed specifically for women which comes in not only pastel pink but also brown and white. And a few days after that announcement, I saw another one for a laptop which again comes in soft pastel colors and was designed to be opened without chipping women’s nail-polish (funny enough when I mentioned this to one of the engineers at work, he said surely we have that already… they’re called tablet PCs. Can’t argue with logic, eh?).
One product designed for women in pastel colors is an aberration. Two introduced during the same week is the beginnings of a trend.
Apparently I wasn’t the only person to notice this trend. During the same week I found an amazing article on the BBC website. The author mentioned that the term “shrink it and pink it” is something that is used in the design industry quite often. Whenever some companies want to breathe life into a brand or product, they take the gadget which was originally introduced to the market in a manly color of black or silver and they make it smaller to fit a woman’s smaller hands and manufacture it in a color that appeals to us – most often in pink or a pastel color. A trip to your local mobile phone shop in London will confirm this. There is always one handset in pink and another one festooned in rhinestones (apparently we like our gadgets pink and with a bit of bling).
I don’t think I’m the only woman who believes color is not the only decision criteria for a gadget purchase – be it a car, a PC or a mobile phone. I also do not dismiss a gadget because it might destroy my manicure. I, like my male counterparts, buy products because they have features/ and capabilities that I want /need. Quite frankly I find this design process lazy. Instead of breathing new life into their products with new features/functionality, companies are simply dismissing the female market by “shrinking and pinking” products. I think I read somewhere that 90% of the purchasing decision for cars is made by women. Sure some women care about the number of cup holders, the size of the glove compartment or the color of the car but surely we, the female of the species, are also concerned with MPG, top speed and handling too.
Adding new features and functionality cost effectively is easy with the aide of MCAE and simulation. You can create your new designs and test them right there and then with CAD embedded simulation – there are now many simulation products that are directly embedded into CAD such as FloEFD. The beauty of this type of simulation is that you can do it immediately yourself and quickly dismiss the design ideas that do not fit your design spec. And because CAD-embedded simulation pays for itself quickly (in terms of saving £$€ on physical testing), the ROI can be achieved quite quickly. So when you’re looking into breathing new life into your products please don’t just shrink it and pink it. I know everyone thinks that a woman’s mind is a thing of mystery. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Most women are no different than men when it comes to selecting cars or gadgets. You may even be surprised to learn that sometimes we want exactly the same things that men do.
Until next time.