I had a fantastic time in Orlando addressing the American Gem Society. (I have an open love affair with small businesses and business owners—I like their nerve, among other things.) To my surprise—and delight—the "marketing to women" issue loomed large.
The conventional industry wisdom is that a large fraction of jewelry is bought by men for women; moreover women would prefer their jewelry to be bought for them by men. (My characterization is slightly—ever so slightly—exaggerated.) However, as I probed, expressing some disbelief (I've heard the same sort of story elsewhere—e.g., financial advice, a woman feels better with a male advisor), some intriguing alternate hypotheses emerged—championed by the relatively small share of female jewelry store owners in attendance.
This was my favorite, from a powerful female business owner (I paraphrase, of course): "Yes, Tom, it's doubtless true that a lot of jewelry is bought by men for women. But there's a clear reason: That jewelry is bought for the stores by men. That is, men [male store owners] instinctively buy for their stores the sort of jewelry that other men would buy for women—hence the end result is as reported, male consumers buying jewelry for women. In my store it's a case of a woman—me—buying jewelry that I think other women would buy for themselves! In fact, the large majority of my customers are women making significant purchases for themselves."
Nice! (Made my day.) (And so it goes in a jillion markets, not just jewelry—what I call "the untested 'oh she prefers it that way' hypothesis.")