The Feminine Side of Guy Gadgets

A Philips executive says companies must tailor products for women, who shape most buying decisions.

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New Philips TVs have curved lines and hide their speakers.
New Philips TVs have curved lines and hide their speakers.

The world of guy gadgets has gone soft. At least that's the opinion of folks at Philips, the big electronics company. Women are the focus of a raft of new softer, rounded designs for the company.

Don't be fooled by the men who dominate the giant Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, says Andrea Ragnettis, head of the company's new Consumer Lifestyle group. He noted that women now make 40 percent of decisions in buying household electronics. Wives, mothers, daughters, and other females influence an additional 21 percent of electronics buying, bringing the total to well over half.

Ragnettis said he ran into the same thing while in charge of the company's business of selling domestic appliances and personal care items, which was his job until a week ago. "There, we found that when it comes to buying that most masculine of products—an electric shaver—women call the shots," he says.

Now Philips has added consumer electronics to his portfolio and tags the combined group Consumer Lifestyle. The idea is to get electronics past the sharp angles, chrome buttons, and nests of wires. Women simply care more about looks in buying a product than men do, Ragnettis says: "They want it to make them feel good."