The Power of She

How can businesses evolve their offerings to address the unique and varied needs of the modern woman?

Despite a recent study by the University of Bath that found that women underestimate their earnings prospects, there is in fact a gradual realisation that women are forming a fast-growing, lucrative market. A growing number of brands are focusing their efforts on how they can truly help and support women, and given the unique user needs for women (as they would be for any user), companies and entrepreneurs are harnessing key design thinking principles of collaboration, inclusion and empathy to target this opportunity.

Taking our lead from Women’s History Month, we're highlighting two companies that have taken the time to listen to what women have to offer and recognise the value of investing in them – both metaphorically and in reality.

Ellevest is the first digital investment platform designed by women, for women, and is the brainchild of Sallie Krawcheck, the former Citigroup CFO and Bank of America executive.  In drafting financial plans for their users, Ellevest takes into account a host of considerations including the statistic that women will generally outlive men, women will endure more time out of the workforce and that small thing known as the gender pay gap (which turns out to be quite a big thing - in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars over her lifetime).

The platform's website is more akin to a trendy online retailer than that of the traditional financial adviser, helping to drive more engagement and - more importantly - financial results. This female friendly startup has so far raised US$9M from the likes of Venus Williams and Khosla Ventures. Read more about Ellevest’s journey with user centred design here

A growing number of companies are reconfiguring traditionally male dominated offerings to appeal to a female audience. One such company is Sustain Natural, an eco-friendly and vegan condom and personal lubricant range that is providing women with products that are free from harmful chemicals, parabens and synthetic fragrances.

By putting the female body first, the company’s offerings include a personal lubricant made using natural aloe vera as its base (rather than the industry standard of petroleum) to help women avoid bacterial infection that can make women more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. As an added bonus, they give 10% of their profits to women’s healthcare organisations.

So What?
It is too easy to label female consumer segments as one and the same – or worse yet, simply forget that women are an important part of the equation (however obvious it may seem!). The principles of design thinking can help businesses evolve their product development and better serve these large, but sometimes overly generalised (or overlooked), consumer segments to unlock new opportunities, markets and revenue streams. 

When businesses move beyond token feminisation (pink razor blades or pens, anyone?) and seek to channel their efforts through the lens of user centred design, needs and objectives can be tailored for in highly personalised or empathetic solutions where the risk of poor product/market fit is reduced and consumer adoption is more likely.