Here are some things that marketers think ladies love: weddings, pink disposable pens, and hip-bumping our friends while wearing tampons. The one thing not on the list? Technology, which is why tech companies’ efforts to target the female market are often unsuccessful at best, and embarrassing at worse. (Anyone remember this classic spot, which told ladies we could use the Windows All-In-One to plan weddings?). The latest attempt to capture the elusive female market is the MEMI, a smart bracelet “for women” that alerts you to incoming calls and texts.
Created by Margaux Guerard, the MEMI is a wearable device that vibrates whenever you receive an incoming call, text, or calendar alert. Although its functionality is fairly limited, it’s clearly targeted at women who don’t want to carry their bulky smart phones in their handbags, or ruin their outfits by keeping them in their pockets (a problem I have literally never heard any woman complain about, ever). It’s currently available for $150 on pre-order, and will eventually retail for $200 each.
Unlike most wearable devices, which are clunky and awkward and look like something you’d see on The Jetsons, the MEMI, which comes in gold and silver, is sleek and non-obtrusive: It looks less like a technological device, and more like something you’d find in the Saks Fifth Avenue jewelry department. In this sense, the MEMI is clearly targeting consumers who value the aesthetics of the product over its utility, and the thing itself is actually quite attractive (which, frankly, distinguishes it from nearly 95 percent of the wearables currently on the market).
Where it starts to get a little dicey, however, is the fact that MEMI is marketed exclusively to women, instead of wearable consumers in general. There seems to be the implication here that only female buyers would be willing to dish out $200 for a pretty bracelet that buzzes when you get a text, that only women would fall for a product that so clearly emphasizes form over function. (It doesn’t help that MEMI creator Guerard tells TechCrunch that her husband “loves the device too,” though she feels compelled to add that “no, he’s not wearing it.”)
This is also not the first time that tech companies have tried to target women by couching their product in “lady-friendly” marketing language. Back in 2011, Android came out with the HTC Bliss, a mobile phone targeted at “women in their 20s and 30s” that featured an attached “charm” gadget that lit up when you received texts and came in sea-foam green, a color apparently selected for its “calming” effect. Because ladies get cray cray when they’re on their periods, and the only way to calm them down is to give them phones that are the same color as their college roommate’s puke puddle after she chugged four spiked Shamrock Shakes on St. Patrick’s Day.
Tech products that appeal to different genders are fine, and likely warrented—but they have to actually do something valuable, not just look like their intended audience will find them pretty/manly. I’m not sure if consumers even want yet another way to be alerting to texts and calls and everything else, but if we did… isn’t that a human thing, not just a women-specific issue?
But it sure is shiny.
H/T TechCrunch | Screengrab via MEMI/Vimeo