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Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Do Women Want? Thoughtful Solutions!

I love the title of the 10/29/2006 New York Times article that has created such a buzz in the past week. [See Andrea Learned's Well Deserved Coverage for the Women's Market Opportunity and Michele Miller's Wonderbytes to name 2.] I even saw a comment that this has been the most emailed article in the history of the New York Times [just can't remember where :( ].

The article is What Do Women Want? Just Ask. Money Talks, And They're Buying by Mickey Meece. It refers to Joanne Thomas Yaccato - from The Thomas Yaccato Group and author of The 80% Minority - whom I heard speak at the 2005 M2W Conference in Chicago. And, yes, she is responsible for the very popular Yaccato 2 house model. [By the way, you can also access the NYC times article at this link on her site.] I bet its bathrooms are fabulous!

The article offers a lot of data about women's increasing purchasing power in the marketplace, with wonderful examples from Canada [Shane Homes] and the U.S. [Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, Best Buy, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, MassMutual, Crave Party, BeJane.com, and AskPatty.com] illustrating that some companies are paying attention and LISTENING to its women consumers.

The article refers to Niki Leondakis, chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants and explains that "some hotels overlook female guests by not emphasizing their personal security — or by offering an abundance of poorly designed rooms. For example, what 5-foot-4 woman has not had to jump up to see herself in hotel mirrors that do not provide full-length views? And why, in so many bathrooms, can makeup supplies fall so easily into the toilet?

Kimpton says 48 percent of its guests are women — compared with a lodging industry norm of 42 percent — and it addresses their needs with rooms that offer more lighting and closet space, better mirrors, bathroom shelves, hand-held steamers and items like razors and toothpaste. There are also in-room wellness programs featuring yoga, Pilates and meditation. And don’t forget in-room safes. “We like to travel with jewelry and we don’t want to wait in line at the front desk,” Ms. Leondakis said.

Bravo, Kimpton!

I came across this article by Melissa Clark from 1997 titled A Ladies' Room Lament which discusses "over-designed" public bathrooms, as well as more practical ones. She writes "a bathroom need not be large to be lovely." But it can be made "special" with unique materials, "by the choice of hardware, and by having adequate mirrors and a space to place a handbag or even change a baby." Then there is the lighting, which, Mah - a restaurant designer from The Rockwell Group - insists, "should be as important in the bathroom as it is in the dining room."" Wow, how thoughtful! She includes a list of 8 restaurants in NYC with some of the "nicest water closets" you'll ever experience [Vong is indeed lovely!]

Consider, then, the benefits of asking your women consumers for their opinions. They will be more than happy to help you develop thoughtful solutions IF YOU LISTEN!

[Talking about thoughtful solutions, read Learned's post on How Women Buy Toilets: They Sit On Them.]

The latest postings today from the Bathroom Blogfest '06 participants include:
+ Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads has posted Temporary Bathrooms: The Blogfest Continues
+ Reshma Anand at What I Do For A Living has posted Bathroom Blogfest: When signs dont work...its time to ask WHY
+ Linda Tischler at Fast Company's blog FC Now has posted The Upside of Long Restroom Lines.
+ Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology has posted Stall of Shame

And, some other related postings:
+ Bill Kinnon added to the discussion with And Now... A Bathroom Break.
+ Dee McCrorey at the Corporate Entrepreneur just posted Bathroom Blogfest: Ladies Loos are about Service, Too.

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