With worldwide personal computer shipments down by 6.5 percent in the first quarter, PC makers scramble to attract every possible demographic. And it was probably in this spirit that the Dell marketing staff figured they’d hit upon a great idea. Market computers to women with a web site called, Della. And before you could even hit shift-tab, the cage fighting had already begun and Dell was back pedaling on the idea.
Reviewers morphed into comedians with suggestions that the company could launch Dello for men. Hewlett-Packarda and Packardo. Silly commentary for what they believed to be a silly idea. If men and women are equal why create such a site? Adding insult to injury, the Della site featured such cutting-edge computer uses as searching for recipes online, tracking exercise routines and counting calories. The implication that women weren’t tech savvy was at the very least, insulting.
In the commentary that followed, it was noted that Dell has lots of company among businesses that attempt to market to women. Some doing a better job of using neutral language than others. Among them, HP with its designer clutch, a computer that can fit in a purse. No word on required size of purse, but it does mean that women no longer have to sacrifice glamour for digital.
With sharp fingers flying across keyboards, someone launched an unscientific research project. A group of 22 women and 15 men were assembled and asked to comment on web sites including Della. It turns out no one found Della to be offensive. After being prompted, 21 women accepted a certain reality that women are different from men and sometimes color, for example will resonate more with women than men.
Della was either scrapped or vigorously modified. Searchers aren’t sure. But now the marketing world is left to wonder what women really want from them. Pink materials for women and blue for men? Purple for everyone equally? Or just basic black? And beyond gender there’s race and culture and so much more to think about. And then there are the Martians.