Excuse me, does this carburetor come in pink?

Oh. Em. Gee, girls.  Isn’t it frustrating when you want to hang a picture but all you have is an ugly manly-colored hammer?  Or when you want to write yourself a shopping list (because that’s all we write, right?) and there’s no lady-sized pen for our delicate little digits?  Or how about when you’re in the market for a tablet computer, but the only options are ugly, complicated, man-centered devices which actually require you to download apps.

Damn!  I *hate* that!  I’m so mad I could eat all the Lindt chocolates AND get a manicure right now!

Okay, no I’m just kidding.

I’m so mad I could do yoga.  Yeah.  That’s how mad  I am.

But seriously, of course, I am not mad.  I am simply baffled.  The latest in the ri-DONK-ulous trend of products-for-women is the ePad Femme (I kid you not), a tablet computer that comes with a pink background and pre-loaded apps, which doesn’t allow you to download any other apps.

ePad Femme
No, this is not a sanitary protection product.

The pre-loaded apps are, predictably, all about yoga, exercise, weight-loss, cooking, perfume and writing shopping lists.  The ladies over at Jezebel have pretty much perfectly expressed my sense of outrage and wonderment, so I do not feel the need to do so here.

But what I do feel the need to do here is wonder why on EARTH marketers and companies keep coming up with these TERRIBLE ideas.  Does anyone remember the “Lady Bic” fiasco with pens “just for her” that sparked a series of absolutely hilarious reviews on Amazon.com?  Or how about Dell’s foray into a website geared just to women called “Della” (because shopping for laptops is SO confusing!).  Other notables include Honda coming out with a car for the ladies, and of course innumerable pink, flowery tools made just for our delicate little hands.

Jessica Grose over at Co.Create asked a couple of branding and design executives why companies keep bringing out these products.  Sometimes it can be an attempt to break into the female market.  Brands like Skinnygirl Cocktails have successfully marketed a “gender-neutral” product (liquor) to ladies and made millions.  So it can be done, apparently, and it can make hella lotsa money.

Bic Cristal for Her
Bic did not get this one right.

The key is to do it cleverly and inoffensively (like Lady Bic razors for women–because shaving legs is VERY different from shaving chins).  The recent PR disasters of the examples I gave above show that some companies just don’t get it (though you’d think after marketing ladies’ razors so well, Bic would have clued in).  But that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop trying.

Ladies, I’m fairly certain we can be sure of seeing more ridiculous examples of just-for-women products in future.  The only thing we can do as innocent consumers (!) is to be aware that we are being marketed to.  We can be informed and critical consumers, by taking the time to evaluate different options on the market and make informed decisions.

It’s cool if we want to buy products that simply look pretty.  It’s also cool if we want to take the time to research our options for laptops, tablets, televisions, cars, and other larger purchases.  It’s important to understand when we’re being targeted by marketers and why.

The brands that market most successfully do it subtly.  The reason the ridiculously sexist products above have failed (and will) is because they’re not subtle.

So I encourage all consumers, ladies and gentlemen alike, to be clever.  Be observant, be discerning, and be informed.  It might not change your buying habits, but at least you’ll know why you choose the products you do.