Creating a product design and development environment that both fosters communication and debate, and champions the needs of both men and women is challenging. In many ways, it goes against the grain of societal norms and professional self-preservation. These barriers ultimately hinder the development of products in the best interest of the consumer and your business. With 80% of all furniture and consumer goods being purchased or influenced by women, your business and products desperately need a way to address women’s needs and desires to bridge the gender gap and thrive in a tough economy.

Unfortunately, there is no lightning bolt magic that will help you figure out what women want. Following the Genderblend™ design process like furniture and product design specialists, Tracy and Tom Hazzard of Hazz Design, can help you create innovative products that bridge the gender gap – meet women’s needs instead of just pinking, shrinking or alienating men.

1)    Mind the Gender Gap!

The communication and the gender gap. Women are telling you what they want, you just need to listen, read and understand the code. Social media sites are a great place to start because they have 99 million more female visitors – women are not just casually visiting, they are participating – staying longer, saying more, referring more and complaining more. This is a great place to understand what women like, want, need, and have to deal with everyday. They read your product reviews, do you? Don’t just dismiss her concerns and impressions, digest and get at the heart of what and why.

2)    No Boys Allowed

Although not a fan of focus groups, (read why in our blog), if you insist on having them, make them women only. Women are more honest and open in a focus group of their own gender, so if you really want her opinion make women-only focus groups standard practice. It’s not sexist, it’s strategic.

3)    Battle for the Sexes

Embracing conflict leads to creative thinking and novel ideas. Innovation and bridging the design gender gap cannot happen without an environment that that allows men and women to debate without jeopardizing their jobs. In today’s world, the power of civilized debate has been lost to battle and compromise is a dirty word for losing. However, at Hazz Design, we advocate strongly (read: debate loudly) for our own ideas but are always open to the possibility that the other has a point because we trust that each of us have an equal vested interest in a successful outcome, not a political or corporate gain. So, when we concede that an idea has merit and still don’t want to give up completely on our own, innovation happens and the gender gap is bridged.

4)   Covertly Feminine Product Design

Women are picky and hard to please. If you please her, he didn’t know it could be so good. But be sure not to pink or shrink, alienating or worse, emasculating him with the design.

5)   Sweat the small stuff and big stuff happens

Those ad guys at Hill Holliday have it right. Fight the good fight to keep the details. Perfection or imperfection in a product gets down to the smallest detail – the cup holder in the car, the hair dryer in the hotel room, the cheap plastic caster – attention to detail is key so women (and men) will love it, recommend it and grow sales.