Meet Jane Geek (BusinessWeek)

With women accounting for 50% of technology purchases, Dell, Samsung, and others are opening the door for them

Managers from Dell Inc.’s marketing and public relations staff flew from their Round Rock (Tex.) headquarters to New York earlier this year to meet with editors and sales reps at a dozen publications. Their mission wasn’t too surprising: Get editors to print more about their computers, televisions, and pocketPCs.

It was the choice of magazines that was unusual, including Oprah Winfrey’s O at Home, Ladies’ Home Journal, and CosmoGIRL — not exactly publications on the company’s regular radar screen, despite the obviously large number of women tapping keyboards in offices and cafés. In barely six months, though, Dell’s laser printer, plasma TV, and notebook computer were featured as must-haves in gift guides in shelter magazines Real Simple and O at Home. And in August, CosmoGIRL gave Dell’s 700m, 4-lb. notebook a “kiss of approval.”

Dell isn’t the only consumer electronics giant to have slept through the alarm when it comes to realizing that women are as interested as men in personal computing and home entertainment. RadioShack, Best Buy, and Samsung, too, have only recently begun to make big changes to their marketing plans, store designs, and products with women in mind. In an effort to avoid commodity status in crowded categories like TVs and PCs, they have dug deeper into customer’s heads. Marketing executives noticed that women are much more involved in buying electronic gadgets but are completely underserved. Indeed this year, for the first time, women are expected to outspend men in the $122 billion market, according to the Consumer Electronics Assn.