VQ is a brand I have known about for quite some time now. I reviewed one of their products back in September last year and I have really enjoyed using our Bardot DAB+ Radio ever since. What I didn’t realise at the time though was the fact that the company actually has a really interesting story behind it. All of the audio products that it produces are designed specifically with women in mind.
Now this is a subject that really interests me and a few years ago whilst working as staff writer at Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Magazine, I researched and wrote a really interesting article all about gender dialogue in the design world and to what extent this influences product design. It was such a fun article to write and if you are interested you can read it by clicking the image below:
For the article, I interviewed a number of experts in this field as well as product designers themselves. One of the experts was Agnete Enga, a founding member of Femme Den, a design lab that explores gender differences as a way of developing design insights into the unmet needs of women. She explained to me that due to the very different structure of the male and female brain, the way that we approach our consumer purchases differs greatly. Whilst men are more interested in the product itself and what it is capable of, women tend to be more interested in the lifestyle and what that can promise.
When I took a deeper look at the VQ website and the new products that are part of the 2016 collection, I realised that this is exactly the approach that the British audio manufacturer has taken in the design of its products. Rather than simply focusing on the technology behind the products, it has put a lot of time and effort into trying to understand the lifestyles of those who will be using them.
It never really occurred to me that VQ was primarily designing audio devices for women but now that I know that, it is blatantly obvious and I think that their subtle approach is extremely clever. After all, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t necessarily want to be made to feel that I am buying a piece of technology aimed specifically at women.
I mean it’s not unusual that these products are just smaller, pinker versions of the ones available for men. So the design of the VQ products is particularly appealing to women yet does not make us feel like we are buying a product designed for women. I like that!
In order to appeal to women, VQ really focuses on lifestyle and this is apparent on their website, in their marketing materials and on their social media platforms. They love to share their inspiration, which comes not only from traditional areas of consumer electronics development, but also from the non-traditional technology areas of design, fashion, music and the arts. And it is this careful curation of lifestyle images that really appeals to the female brain.
However, I didn’t want to simply base my evaluation of the company’s approach to design on my own assumptions so I asked if I could speak to Jonathon Merricks, CEO and Creative Designer at VQ to get the story directly from the horse’s mouth.
Jonathon says: “Throughout my life I’ve had two key passions – music and design. I’ve been very fortunate to build a brand, in VQ, where I can combine those loves. If we go back five or so years, the world of consumer audio was a frankly uninspiring place – black or silver boxes with the only real choice being what size or how loud you want it to be. I simply didn’t believe that’s what consumers really wanted, but no one was giving them a choice, well that’s where VQ comes in.”
Jonathon continues: “We’re unashamedly female focused and inspired by the arts, fashion and interiors – I want our product to be an essential addition to your home, not just a dusty old radio in the corner. We offer 11 colours, seven Emma Bridgewater patterns and we are now introducing wood veneer, enamel and other unique materials – we give people a choice. In doing that, we don’t compromise on the sound quality or the functionality. I believe it’s a compelling mix of sound and style that consumers must agree with, because we’ve grown in just a few years into a global brand in over 15 territories around the world. I think we’re a great British success story, a small independent brand based in Hampshire, taking our unique designer audio products to the world.”
The 2016 collection from VQ contains some really stunning products. One of the latest products to be launched is the Hepburn MK II which builds on the multi-award winning success of the original radio. It has retained its designer aesthetics but has been improved with some exciting acoustic and functionality upgrades.
It features DAB, DAB+ and FM radio reception so you can enjoy all of your favourite stations with digital or analogue broadcasts. You can also make sure everyone in your household has their favourite station programmed in at the touch of a button as there are now 10 presets available. Or if you would rather play music or any other audio content from your own library or from streaming services such as Spotify or TuneIn then you can simply connect the radio wirelessly via Bluetooth.
There is also a handy USB charging port that you can use to charge your devices. VQ has also upgraded the Hepburn MK II to dual ultra-wide speaker drivers that are further enhanced with Digital Sound Processing technology. (This is where I’m a bit lost, but to be honest I was already sold before all the talk of drivers and Digital Sound Processing technology).
When we reviewed the Bardot radio my husband was quite impressed with it but true to what Agnete Enga exclaimed, he was more interested in what the device could achieve with its technological capabilities. For him, it wasn’t just about lifestyle and whilst he really liked the product he did say there were others on the market offering better sound quality.
However, when VQ asked if we would like to test out the Hepburn MK II, my husband’s reaction was definitely an improvement and he immediately noticed the technological upgrades stated above. So this is a clear indication that whilst the products manufactured by VQ are designed primarily with women in mind, they also appeal to men due to the technology and sound quality. But considering that 85% of all brand purchases are made by women VQ’s approach to design and marketing is a clever one indeed.
VQ is kindly offering one lucky Design Sheppard reader the opportunity to win their own Hepburn MKII in a colour of their choice. Simply enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. You must answer the question in your blog comment in order to enter the giveaway then click that you have commented on the Rafflecopter widget. The question is:
How many colours are the View Quest radios available in?
a Rafflecopter giveaway