Why aren’t women interested in audio? This is a question that comes up in industry conversations, social media groups and at audio dealers quite a bit. If you ask a male (or even the rare female) audio salesperson, it’s usually framed more as a complaint than a question. “If wives didn’t get in the way, we’d sell a lot more systems.”
While that complaint is rooted in the feedback men have given audio/video salespeople since the beginning of the business, I suggest that the problem is actually abetted by our practices and marketing, manufacturers and dealers alike, and is not an immovable issue. If we want to become more inclusive to women, and to non-audiophile males, we have to change our approach.
It is true that women enjoy music as much as men. It is true that women often have better hearing, particularly as we age. It is true that women cultivate deep sensitivities to art and design in at least equal proportion to men. Some men suggest, I’d say chauvinistically, that women aren’t interested in “tech” and that keeps them away from complicated audio systems.
I counter that notion most easily with a visit to an Apple store where you will see women mobbing the product tables; but consider the open, hands-on way Apple presents to the public in contrast to our typical hands-off approach. Similarly, I belong to a couple of photographic groups that are dominated by women using very expensive and sophisticated DSLRs and taking amazing photographs. It is ridiculous to suggest that an aversion to technology is a cause of women’s disinterest in audio. And besides, a great audio system doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
So, the first thing to change is the assumption that women can’t be interested in audio or won’t allow it in their homes; there are many things to change once this assumption is cleared but that’s the key first step. We have been suffering through a declining market in very large part because we’ve expected enthusiast customers, aka audiophiles, to be self-motivated to purchase more and/or better gear. Because our clientele has been almost exclusively male, the audio business has acted like a boy’s club. Perhaps there was nothing really wrong with this in days gone by, but for years we’ve seen that customer base literally aging out of the market and we didn’t replenish it with a new one sufficiently. If we want to expand our market, we need to get the other half of the population involved; certainly at least to the extent that a quality music or theater system isn’t judged objectionable. We can’t live off of soundbars and micro speakers!
Next week I will address how to expand our market to better include women, and my own personal success story!