Pens for Ladies and the Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Have you ever looked at a person and felt an unexplainable sense of jealousy or hatred? A feeling rising from the pit of your stomach, swarming into your head, seemingly placing pressure on your brain that you just don’t understand? Well, wonder no longer. You’re probably looking at the guy who gets paid handsomely to come up with groundbreaking product ideas such as special biros for ladies.

That’s right, pens for ladies. Not just pens that are pink or have passages from ‘50 Shades of Grey’ printed on them either; pens that have been ergonomically designed to fit the dainty hands of the fairer sex.

Even though I’ve spent a good majority of my 22 years on this planet with women who seem to be able to successfully translate their thoughts onto paper using a standard biro, the good folks at BIC seem to have finally blown the lid off one of society’s greatest secrets – women can’t use pens. Well, pens that aren’t BIC for Her and aren’t priced at an extremely reasonable £14.84 for a pack of 12 at least (note: this price was at the time of writing.  The cost for a 12 pack of BIC for Her lady pens has since increased to £16.60 which suggests my god people are actually buying these things!)

Although the offending writing implements have been around for a while now, BIC’s slightly misguided attempt to target the female market has come to prominence in the past couple of days thanks to a series of hilarious product reviews on Amazon. Seriously, take a look – they’re genuinely funny and not pretend funny like Britain’s Got Talent or My Family.

The BIC For Her furore has now been featured on NBC News and even that bastion of women’s rights, The Daily Mail (sample headline: ‘The man who taught me that even feminists like a touch of chivalry’) have had a good old chortle at BIC. Oh BIC, you silly sexists!

Although the backlash has mainly been in good humour (one of the top tags for BIC For Her on Amazon is ‘Horses Need Pens Too’), it’s clear that the product was born from a serious misunderstanding of their target audience. Either that, or BIC interviewed the only 100 women in the world who can’t operate a pen.

Econsultancy have done a good post on the social media firestorm BIC is currently facing and ways they can deal with it, but another important ‘I learned something today’ moment we can all take from the BIC for Her palaver is the importance of properly researching your audience.

Whether you’re a writer, work in SEO or web development or even just work as a cashier in a shop, understanding your audience is a vitally important part of everything that you do. It should inform the work you produce and the needs and desires of your audience should always be at the forefront of your mind when creating any product or content.

Getting to know your audience is actually pretty easy. Take a look around on forums, get on Twitter and monitor what people are talking about. If you’re writing about farming, then get on farming forums and see what the big issues are and what’s concerning them at the moment.

Actually talking to your audience helps too, rather than speculating on what they might need. Surveys, questionnaires, interviews or even just watching the way they use and approach the kind of product or content you are creating – all are easy to do and make your life a lot easier in the long run.

Getting to know your audience properly means that you can avoid any ‘ladies’ pens’ or ‘monkey tennis’-esque disasters and will also make the work you produce a lot more relevant and of a better quality overall. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pitch my range of biros for dogs to BIC…

Chris Smith
  • Written by on 31st August 2012 at 10:31
  • “Chris Smith is a copywriter and social media manager at Fluid Creativity.”
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