A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. . . However, when it comes to pretty gadgets and gizmos, it is a joy until something a bit cooler and cuter comes onto the market.
You might have noticed that, lately, in the traditionally macho world of tech, there’s been a silent revolution stirring — or rather shimmying, glittering and come-hithering.
Packaging on previously austere and functional items, including smart watches and iPhones, is starting to creep towards the ‘feminine’, as retailers race to cash in on the ever-increasing spending power of women.
Women make up 51 per cent of the population, but we control 85 per cent of household spending decisions.
Men’s last stand was in the world of tech. Until now.
The industry trend for slapping a feminine design on otherwise gender-neutral products has been named GlamTech. Pictured: Huawei FreeBuds and chic lipstick style case
In 2017, the gap in spending on tech between men and women was 10 per cent, so closing that gap, in a market worth £22.2 billion of revenue in the UK alone this year, is a potential goldmine.
While some companies are funnelling money and research into creating brand new ‘Femtech’ that is uniquely suited to women — such as apps and devices which monitor health concerns including fertility and menopause — others have cottoned on to the potential profits to be made not by tweaking their technology but in releasing it in limited-edition designs to appeal to women.
This industry trend for slapping a feminine design on otherwise gender-neutral products has even got a name: GlamTech. Fitness tracking company Fitbit was one of the first to make inroads into this market
The company charges a premium for the limited-edition version of its Fitbit Luxe activity tracker, which sits on a metal chain-link bracelet instead of the usual rubberised band. (Fitbit also includes a period tracking function on the Luxe model, straddling the divide between GlamTech and FemTech.)
Soundcore is another company glamming up tech — this time on the audio scene, ditching dull headphones to create a pair of stylish sunglasses which transmit sound through speakers in the arms of the glasses.
Meanwhile, Chinese firm Huawei has introduced Freebuds Lipstick — scarlet in-ear audio buds that slip into a black and gold case reminiscent of a Chanel lipstick, differentiating it from the ubiquitous androgyny of the Apple Airpods.
Elsewhere, regular cameras, chargers and keyboards are encased in pink and pastel shades. They work in exactly the same way as other products but look … well, lovely.
The rise of GlamTech is not without controversy, though: it has become a highly charged issue, with some marketing strategists calling it sexist and lazy.
Libby Galvin reveals a selection of GlamTech available to purchase in the UK – including IZO Wireless Mouse (pictured)
And yet, the proof is in the pudding. This stuff does sell, believes marketing director Polly Arrowsmith. She says we only have to look at fashion and cosmetics to know that limited-edition designs work. Indeed, such products often sell out before they hit the shelves and, even when subject to a cynical ‘pink tax’, with the price pitched higher than for the same product in a plain design.
‘It is crazy that I prefer to buy a [more expensive] woman’s razor, rather than buying a man’s razor. I know it’s irrational’ — yet still, she admits, she’ll buy it.
‘Brands are responding to consumer demand,’ says Clare Martin, founder and director of Blue Cactus Digital marketing agency.
Tech giants are waking up to the potential of feminine buying power. As of two years ago, women’s spending on consumer electronics outstripped their spending on clothing.
So is GlamTech a tacky, manipulative gimmick, or genius merchandising that simply caters to certain tastes? Read on and decide for yourself.
IZO Wireless Mouse, £37, gb-aziocorp.globalstore.com
Frosted white with gold detailing, this wireless mouse is infinitely chicer than the typical tech essential lump of black plastic.
Instax Mini 11 in lilac, £69.99, currys.co.uk
Instax Mini 11 in lilac (pictured) combines 1990s nostalgia and pretty pastel shades for a surefire hit with today’s selfie brigade
Combining 1990s nostalgia and pretty pastel shades with instant images makes this a surefire hit with today’s selfie brigade. You can also purchase a colour-matching camera bag.
Soundcore Frames, £149.99, soundcore.com
Soundcore Frames (pictured) transmits audio through the arms of the voice controlled sunglasses, while being more attractive than regular headphones
Much more attractive than regular headphones. Audio is transmitted through the arms of these voice control sunglasses, and the fra-mes can also be switched between simple sha-des and blue light-blocking lenses.
Fitbit Luxe, £179.99, fitbit.com
Fitbit Luxe(pictured) is a health-focused fitness tracker that doubles as jewelry, with the ability to monitor activity and sleep
A gold link bracelet strap and subtle watch face allow this health-focused fitness tracker to double as jewellery. As well as steps, activity and sleep, it tracks your menstrual cycle.
Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick, £199.99, consumer.huawei.com
Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick (pictured) are red earbuds that promise high resolution sound in a stylish case
Neatly stored in what looks like a designer lipstick case, these red earbuds promise high resolution sound, noise cancellation and quirky-cute style.
IZO Wireless Keyboard, £103, b-aziocorp. glopalstore.com
IZO Wireless Keyboard (pictured) is an appealing iPad accessory available in fashion-forward shades and with gold-detailing
Rounded buttons, gold-detailing and fashion-forward shades make this keyboard an appealing iPad accessory.
SJCAM C100+ video camera, £59.99, sjcam.co.uk
SJCAM C100+ video camera (pictured) comes in eight colors and has been designed for TikTok and Instagram reels
Made for TikTok and Instagram reels, this video camera comes in eight colors including peach, pastel green and baby blue and looks just as good as the clips you film.
HOT FLASH WATCH
Embr Wave 2, £258, embrlabs.com
Embr Wave 2 (pictured) heats and cools to provide relief from hot flashes, as a ‘clinically proven’ gadget for alleviating symptoms of the menopause
A rare bit of GlamTech that both looks girlie and performs a female-specific function. This rose-gold wristband heats and cools to provide relief from hot flashes or prevent fights over the thermostat. It claims to be ‘clinically proven’ to help alleviate symptoms of the menopause.
Beyond UV+O3 Sanitizing Box, £46, shopsonix.com
Beyond UV+O3 Sanitizing Box (pictured) cleans items including phone and keys within ten minutes using UV light and ozone
A clever little gadget which looks like a purse or glasses case but is in fact a sanitizing station-cum-charging port that slips neatly into your handbag. Pop your phone, keys and any other bits and bobs inside and in ten minutes flat they’ll be cleaned with UV light and ozone.
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook, £32.99, amazon.co.uk
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook (pictured) uploads handwritten notes to your phone or computer
iPads are all well and good, but for those of us aged over 30, nothing beats scribbling notes by hand. This pretty ‘smart’ notebook uploads handwritten notes to your phone or computer and can then be wiped clean to reuse again and again.