Magazine Article


Bridging the Digital Gender Gap

Bridging the Digital Gender Gap

Photo Industry Targets Women in
New Digital Camera Campaigns

by Janine Kachadourian

Photo courtesy of Fujifilm Call me paranoid if you will but I'm starting to feel as if I'm being targeted—by the photo industry that is. I distinctly get the feeling that those sneaky "M & M's" (manufacturers & marketers) are zeroing in on me because I'm a woman. Don't get me wrong—I don't mind the attention. The catchy campaigns and cutesy, colorful cameras on the market—all designed with women in mind—please me. It's about time that the industry pays homage to us. After all, we've been behind the cameras, snapping away for years.
It's common knowledge in the industry that women by far take the most photos—especially women with children. I can offer my own photo album, and those of my girlfriends as proof. We're all absent from most of our family photos because we're taking the pictures—and we can't be in two places at one time. Traditionally, women have been the ones documenting the family history via photos and with the advent of digital photography, we've taken it to a whole new level. Not only are we snapping away, we're sharing photos online and ordering digital prints with gusto. Women have embraced digital technology readily and eagerly, and you can bet that the industry is just tickled about it.
According to Jim Malcolm, Sony marketing manager, digital & still cameras, digital photography was initially a technology sell intended for the early adopters, the tech-savvy consumers, most of whom were men. But as digital photography evolved in terms of technology and affordability, more consumers, particularly women, became interested and involved.
"The fact that prices for digital cameras have come down while usability and quality have gone up, makes the whole digital experience more friendly, and that speaks to both men and women," said Malcolm.
With more and more women making the switch from film to digital, manufacturers have stepped up their efforts to capture and keep the attention—not to mention dollars—of their female converts. Flip through any number of magazines, turn on the television or look at the new digital products on the market as evidence of their efforts. Kodak's "Share Moments. Share Life." corporate campaign speaks to women by creating a strong emotional link between pictures and memories. The ads revolve around the consistent message of better pictures and better sharing as a way for consumers to share life's moments.
Kodak is also reaching out to women by setting up "mall tours" (admit it—they're likely to find us there). These tours involve a giant camera and helpful, knowledgeable Kodak staffers on hand intent on introducing digital to the uninitiated. Kodak's "Picture Planet"—a 52 ft. tractor-trailer that traverses the country and stops at various retail locations, offers shoppers an opportunity to experience firsthand the fun of digital photography. People can just hop onboard "Picture Planet," try out Kodak's EasyShare digital cameras and walk away with a digital print of their own to keep.
"We're seeking to embrace people in simple, grassroots kinds of ways," said Phil Scott, Kodak's director of marketing for the America's region. "We want to be a friendly digital mentor, and show people that digital isn't at all scary."
Fuji has targeted women through online female-oriented websites, with campaigns that promote its products and also serve to educate browsers about digital photography. They also enjoyed success last year with their "Do You Speak Fuji?" television campaign. Created with a female audience in mind, each commercial tells a little life story, typically about a man getting into some kind of hot water—a forgotten anniversary and the like.
According to Paul D'Andrea, Fujifilm's vice president of marketing, women responded not only to the story, but to the digital products featured in the commercials as well. Said D'Andrea, "The commercials were very human to women and we were very pleased with the response we got. We always keep in mind the female audience—let's not forget that no one takes more pictures, via film or digital cameras, than women with young children. So of course, we see women as a very important target and we seek creative ways to reach them."
In addition to gender specific marketing, manufacturers are offering digital cameras with what they consider to be "feminine features." These digicams are lightweight, compact, colorful, portable—features that, in my book, transcend gender. Who wouldn't rather carry a lightweight camera than a heavy one? There are even digicams on the market touted as making a "fashion statement" with their innovative design, eye-catching appearance and wearability. While I'm not looking to accessorize with my camera, I do appreciate the fact that these cameras are small enough to throw into a handbag and still offer ease of use and quality prints.
From a retail perspective, the focus on women consumers is good for business. Because manufacturers are vying to capture the attention of that all-important "Mom market," there are numerous products on the shelves—basically, there is something for everyone in virtually every price range.
Vahé Christianian, a retailer whose family owns Mike's Camera in Colorado, estimates that between 40-50% of his customers are women. He added that according to recent research, 69% of online orders for digital prints are placed by women. Clearly women are embracing the technology.
"Women have always managed the family legacy via photography, so a big push toward marketing digital for women makes sense," he said. He added, "It seems inevitable to me that women will continue to take the pictures, they'll share them and manage them. I guess it's just one of those women things."