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Marketing to women isn't just about pink

GLOBAL – Here we are in the Twenty-First Century and we still have to ask – what do women want? Remember that movie where a chauvinistic advertising executive has a fluke accident that enables him to hear what women think? It might be a shock, but if you’re a man working in technology it’s an experience you should have more often. 

“It’s not just about pink phones…”

It’s never just about pink phones. Anyone who suggests it is will be banished back to the 1970s where they can demand dinner on the table at 6 o’clock and argue that women should never be allowed to drink pints.

All right, Nokia is much too nice to ever suggest such a thing. But seriously, women want more than pink phones – and by ‘more’ we don’t mean phones that are pink and shaped like high heels, either.

Women represent the world’s biggest economic opportunity (Harvard Business Review, September 2009). Countries where girls go to school, and women take part in the work place, surge ahead in development. By 2014 female income will have increased by five trillion dollars in five years. That’s a lot of extra money, but women need to be persuaded to spend it.

Research shows that women like to feel they get value for money and, although they often want the same things as men, women view buying things through a slightly different lens. 

Irony formed a big part of the pink N8 video

Traditionally some of Nokia’s phones have been more appealing to men than women, but ongoing work has been trying to make that more equal. For the last few years the company has been on a journey that’s led to an internal and external transformation. 

Nokia asked employees what they thought about making products and services that appeal equally to both women and men. Hundreds of ideas were submitted, and three were implemented – but overall the message was clear:

“Women don’t want to know what it is, they ask – what does it do for me?” said Adam Travis, who works on diversity issues with Nokia.

Forget the specs

Women usually prove immune to a technology-focused approach to selling a product. So when you launch into a fact-filled spec sheet, or an explanation of gadgets and gizmos – and her eyes glaze over – stop.

“Oprah gets women,” said Samantha Steele (VP, Indirect Sourcing), “It’s about work, spirit, health, home, gardens and family– the experiences you have in your life and what helps you get them. .”

Even if you never want to bake a cake, prune a rose bush or go on a spiritual journey – you still want to know what your phone can do for you. Adam Travis points out that nobody buys a Kindle only because of its hardware. You want one because it’s lighter than a paperback, you can carry your whole library around with you, and you can read it easily on the train to work.

Madonna inspired video

It’s nice to have a new Nokia Lumia, or an Asha, and understand how they work – but it’s even better to find out that you connect with all of your friends and share photos instantly on social networking, find out where the best café is on Nokia Maps, listen to great music, or teach your kids to read with the Sesame Street app


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Nokia’s diversity goal is to enable men and women of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds, skills and abilities, lifestyles, generations and perspectives to contribute their best to our success.

We can better appeal to our customers when we have a diverse workforce that understands our worldwide customer base.

We are constantly developing the flexibility of our working conditions and policies, to enable an inclusive environment.

Other initiatives include the Asia Talent Program, the Women in Nokia employee network and the Lesbian/ Gay/ Bisexual/ Trans employee network.


It’s not always about the price of a phone, it’s about telling women Nokia offers better value through great services. So, you can use Nokia Life Tools to run your business, manage your health (and have a lot of fun too.) 

A YouGov survey in 2010 showed that although women now buy more smartphones than men, they are twice as likely to have never downloaded a single app.

So forget the Playboy app – the Nokia Ideas Project have been working with LadyGeek on the Apps to Empower Women Challenge. The winner was Woman’s Personal Private Market Place, and runners up included an app for Mobile Women African Crafters in Nigeria and the Easy App for Elderly Women.

The inside story

A lot of this focus has been on talking to the people who buy Nokia phones, but the company has changed on the inside too.

In the last few years, Adam Travis says, the company has been transforming into one with dynamic and diverse leadership, where 31% of the Nokia Leadership team is women, and there is an active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network. This year gay employees made an in-house video to support the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign for LGBT young people.

“We want to unleash the full potential in everyone whether they work with us, or use our products. A big part of that is recognising and respecting that everyone is different. You might be from an emerging market, but you’re still an individual who likes listening to PSquare, or shoe shopping. You might be a woman who likes cooking, or you might like rally-driving.”

You might even be a woman who likes pink – pink is a great colour – but that’s not all you want from a phone.