Sisters are doing it for themselves…or at least they should be


Date: 8th Mar 2017

  • Businesses are missing a trick by not thinking about the gender and personality of customers
  • 83% of all purchases made are by women, yet most product designers are male
  • ‘If you make products for women, you need women designers’ says Professor Gloria Moss
  • Like for like: Women prefer designs by women and men prefer designs by men

Be Bold for Change is the theme of today's International Women’s Day  and Professor Gloria Moss (picture right) is telling businesses to do just that. She says: “If you make products for women, you need women designers.”

The Buckinghamshire New University Professor of Marketing and Management says most designs we are offered - website, product design, interiors and graphics - are using the ‘male’ aesthetic, yet 83% of all purchases are made by women.

She adds: “The fact that women prefer designs by women would suggest that you need to employ a lot of female designers but in reality most designers are male, and as you go more senior in graphics something like 88% are male  and 92% in product design.

“So the message for International Women’s Day is that organisations where the majority of their customers are women need to employ women and particularly senior women. Female leaders are especially important within organisations with a high proportion of female customers.

“A design is almost like an x-ray image of the person who’s created it. Businesses should be looking at research like this. They need to begin by saying ‘who are we targeting?’,” says Prof Moss.

Prof Moss’s design discoveries have continued into her new book, Personality, Design and Marketing (Routledge 2017), which shows how personality is reflected in graphic creations and also in preferences, with people preferring visuals created by people with similar personalities to their own.

The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), the most widely used test worldwide, has ‘Thinking’ and ‘Feeling’ as one personality dimension and this comes into play when you are talking about genders too.

According to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, about 70% of women are ‘Feeling’ types and about 40% of men are ‘Thinking’. These terms come from Jung and the ‘Thinking’ type uses logic alone in decision-making while the ‘Feeling’ type uses logic and feeling.

“If a business or organisation is going to employ more women for the purpose of targeting a certain audience the selection of those women needs care,” explains Prof Moss. “It would make sense to ensure that if your customers are ‘Feeling’ personality types that the demographic group of those you are considering hiring reflects that.”

The new book also reveals, as with gender preferences, that design versus personality shows like for like – ‘Feeling’ types prefer designs by ‘Feeling’ types and ‘Thinking’ designs attract ‘Thinking’ consumers.

“Look at your audience then work backwards about who works on those designs, both in gender and personality types. I think it is amazing that what you draw or create says something about you.

“Lots of businesses think taste is universal and that what they like is what everyone else likes. I think this is potentially catastrophic for businesses,” adds Prof Moss.

“If women are your prime market, then you want to be considering the personality of those women.”

Prof Moss’s new book Personality, Design and Marketing (Routledge) includes a chapter about organisational implications of putting the research into practice and creating the right environment for personality-sensitive design.