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Women and men have different brand loyalties when it comes to buying computers, and someone's done the research to prove it.

What we can't work out is what it all means.

A survey of 69,000 Net heads, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that when the woman of the house is involved in the purchase of a new PC HP's share goes up by four points compared to its overall figures, and Gateway's rises by about two points.

What this means is that HP is ever so slightly more likely to be the "brand of choice" when a woman is choosing the PC that it would have been, had she had nothing to do with the decision at all.

So, the manufacturers need not get too excited by this particular variation.

To pour even more cold water on this apparently red-hot marketing data, the survey also found that more often than not men have the final word about which PC to buy - bad news for HP then. Nearly three-quarters of the time, men are involved in making the brand decision while women are involved in less than two thirds.

Women have more clout for first time purchases though - closer to the three quarters mark, while men get more involved in the upgrading and replacing of old machines. [Is anyone surprised by this?-Ed]

"It is becoming even more important for PC marketers to understand the roles that individuals within the family play in deciding which brands to consider and which to buy," said Dave Tremblay, director of Harris Interactive's technology research.

He went on: "Understanding which family members are influencing purchases in which segments will help manufacturers fine-tune their marketing and capture their `unfair' share of purchases."

We can see how such data would be useful, but are far from sure that this is that data. No definition of "involvement" was given for a start, so it could be anything from:

Man: "Should we spend some money on a PC?"
Woman: "Yeah, go on then."

To an in-depth discussion of processor speeds, DDR vs. Rambus, and monitor sizes.

However, Apple might want to take note. Once the teenagers get involved, Apple's share of sales drops off by four, possibly statistically insignificant, points. ®

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