When we talk about startups, we rarely take a look at the target users at the first place. Instead, we always place them the same way we deal with traditional industries: we look at the functions provided and divide them into different sectors: SNS, game, commerce, advertisement, media… For me, the business model on internet is simply two: either you sell products (virtual or real) directly to end-users who are willing to pay, or you sell advertisements because you covered a bunch of valuable users who may be willing to buy something because of the ads displayed. That’s what I try to argue here: the users you targeted might be more important than the initial product design or the functions offered at first. Women users, who have great purchase power and excellent curiosity for new internet products, are worth of more attention.
Let’s check some data before starting this topic:
- Chinese consumers spend US$6 billion on online cosmetics shopping.
- Among the consumers using mobile as shopping device for Taobao (Chinese ebay), over 50% are women. According to statistics by AppChina, female holders already amount to 53% of the total smart-phone owners. If we check out the quantity of smart-phones activated in China, we can safely estimate the number of female smart-phone users: over 29 million by the end of 2011.
- Women love social and commerce online. Appdata shows over 97.9% pinterest fans who use facebook are women. For Gilt and Groupon, women users amount to 67% and 77%.
According to these data, women users have great purchase power, love social network plus e-commerce, and are better equipped with smart-phone devices than men. We may easily draw the conclusion that there will be plenty of internet products targeted on them? Well, there are some, but still with a lot to explore.
Existing tech startups focused on women in China:
1. Independent cloth and cosmetics brands:
They design and produce cloth or cosmetics with own brand, and adopt internet as the only or main sales channel.
2. Online store:
They skip the manufactory part, but offer an online distribution channel for brands and individuals.
3. Female SNS:
The above three share similar product design with pinterest, and the first two focuse more on directing users to online purchasing.
These webs try to create more contents by collecting related users.
4. New media
These webs offer guide for young girls to dress up, with links to direct purchase.
This rough picture shows us some interesting points: 1. Many tech startups for women are still on web only. 2. Chinese tech startups available for women are still limited to certain categories or functions. Some photo-taking apps are popular among women users, but that’s usually what they end up with, not what they initially intended or designed to.
Why is that? I guess demographic might be the answer: Most tech startup founders, and venture capitalists are guys. It’s harder for them to pay attention to women’s market or design products to satisfy female’s needs naturally.
Here comes my personal opinion: Women users deserve more attention, especially on mobile apps, given their customer base, purchase power and internet using habits. We have already found “Etsy”, “Pinterest”, “my virtual boyfriend”, “What I wore Today”, “Joyus”, “Spanx”, “Foodspotting” and other innovative products targeting female users. There must be more to expect.