How Wearable Tech Can — and Should — Win Women

How Wearable Tech Can — and Should — Win Women

If activity trackers want to succeed in the crowded space, there’s one group they need to court: women.

Although we’re not typically fans of gender generalizations, our user data — collected over the year and a half since Matchup’s beta product launched — show a clear trend. Women are the most-frequent users of our platform, beating out men on a ratio of 2:1.

We think there are a few reasons behind this, even though the quantified self movement began as a more male-dominated space that in some cases left women out of the conversation.

First, women make the bulk of the purchasing decisions for consumer goods, according to 2014 Nielsen data. And the female share of the consumer marketplace will continue to grow, Nielsen projects.

Second, Nielsen says that women typically are more loyal shoppers than men; females remember the brands they buy and how they feel about them. This suggests that finding — and keeping — female clients could pay dividends in the long run.

Third, women are early adapters of technology (contrary to what some believe), and women use social media more often than men.

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Some 71 percent of women, compared to 62 percent of men, use social networking sites, according to the Women’s Media Center. Different networks report even stronger female user bases than this figure and the Social Media Examiner has stats on the power of social media as a marketing tool.

In sum: 92 percent of marketers agree that social engagement is important to their business, and more than half said they were able to generate leads using social platforms.

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All of this brings us to our next point …

Wearables Should Be Social

Across our community boards, we find that women (and a smaller number of men) are our storytellers, our cheerleaders. Women are the ones giving public shoutouts to team members and competitors, keeping Matchup’s element of friendly fitness competition feeling robust. This holds true for both individual users and company-sponsored wellness initiatives.

Social support has long been cited as a key way to keep up with healthy behaviors and fitness. It’s perhaps the top reason Weight Watchers has been so successful for so many years, for example.

It’s so important that a paper from the Harvard University School of Public Health suggested that the female desire for and emphasis on social support is one reason why women live longer than men across the globe.

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Matchup user Katcole7 put the importance of social support for fitness like this, “It’s a lot easier to stop stepping when it’s just personal goals, but when other people are counting on you it definitely helps to keep me moving.”

What It’s Not About

A slew of companies have popped up boasting women-designed wearables, which have so far largely meant the devices are bedazzled (and in some cases, incredibly expensive).

But numerous writers — and companies — have pointed out that functionality, not fashion, still reigns supreme.

“You only get so far with sprinkling some fashion dust on it. You have to get in and engineer the thing inside and out,” Robert Brunner, the founder of the San Francisco design studio Ammunition, told The New York Times.

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bellabeat wearable device

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A piece in Bloomberg Business suggests that instead of looks, devices should focus on catering to women’s health metrics and women’s health concerns.

“Women want to know how it will work for them and how it can make their lives better,” Belinda Parmar, the CEO of tech consultancy firm Lady Geek wrote in Marketing magazine. “And since their dollars could make or break the industry, it’s time for a change.”

Of course, what women want and need differs from individual to individual. Whether a woman wants a bedazzled bangle bracelet depends on the person, as well.

The bottom line here is that companies should think long and hard about the challenges women face and program products to address consumer needs, rather than just what catches the eye.

Once the tech works, women can use these devices to promote their personal health and that of their social networks, creating a healthy ripple effect in their wake.

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Stridekick is an online and mobile platform that allows individuals to create and join fun fitness challenges regardless of which wearable device they own or level of fitness. Join a community of other health minded individuals in stepping towards your health goals today!
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