Men Buy and Women Shop

If it’s true that men “buy” and women “shop”, how do retailers address each gender when developing their marketing strategy at the store level to appeal to both? Everything from advertising and marketing messages, to product design, store layout, store décor, merchandising displays, sales training, and customer service policies must be considered in order to appeal to the expectations of the desired customers’ gender and their particular shopping habits and buying decisions. Failure to cater to the distinct differences and idiosyncrasies of gender can have a real effect on whether a retailer meets their marketing goals at the store level; which in a nutshell covers:

  • To lure shoppers and drive traffic to the store
  • Increase dwell time in the store
  • Influence their buying decisions
  • Turn them into returning customers

Mars vs. Venus ?

Contrary to what your ego might think, there is no evidence that one gender is more superior then the other! Just that we’re different. Study after study reveals that both sexes are capable of equal intellectual performance. There are in fact several physical differences between the brains of both genders that affect how we process information. These have to do with our brain size, the thickness of the brain wall, number of nerve endings, and the use of different sides of the brain depending on the task, and more.

Why are Women “Shoppers”?

Despite the increasing role of today’s male shoppers, particularly in the grocery sector (at 41%), women still represent the majority of shoppers. In fact, according to Bloomberg, women make 85% of the consumer purchases in the U.S. and influence over 95% of total goods and services purchased.

Women are considered to be more astute and knowledgeable shoppers than men, which means it takes them longer to make a buying decision. They don’t mind putting in the time and energy to do their research and compare products. It’s estimated that 90% of women research online before stepping foot in a store. Their approach to making decisions makes them more susceptible to emotional appeals than a man.

According to a survey by the AMP Agency, “A woman’s approach to shopping is very much part of who she is; it is part of her DNA.” One of the interesting findings from this survey was that women’s shopping habits don’t really change as they grow older. The way a woman shops when she’s in her late teens is the same way she is going to shop when she’s in her forties- it’s more of a lifelong mindset. This illustrates the importance of earning her loyalty.

How to Sell to the Woman “Shopper”

  • According to an article in Chron, women only reach a buying decision when they are able to look at the overall picture. Providing them with as much background information as possible as well as product reviews would prove useful to them.
  • Setting up an emotional context is also a good strategy
  • Women prefer to interact with the store’s sales staff. Retailers would do well to place more emphasis on educating their sales staff on the store offerings and making sure they are courteous and helpful.
  • Women aren’t as concerned about emphasis on the gender of a product (whether it is pink or blue for example). This allows women to have a lot more choices than men.

Why are Men “Buyers”?

Men do not “shop”. Instead, they buy things. They like to get in, get what they need, and get out. It doesn’t take them as long to make a buying decision because they aren’t major comparison shoppers or bargain hunters. They would rather spend a little more money on a product if it means speeding up the process and they don’t like to leave the store empty-handed.

According to an article in Forbes the majority of men compare shopping for clothes to “doing your own brain surgery.” According to one marketing consultant and retail coach, “Men generally shop alone. Men seldom compare prices. Men don’t care if the item is on sale. Men really don’t care about the color. Men sometimes compare quality, but usually only when it involves tools.” And they don’t use coupons.

How to Sell to the Man “Buyer”

  • Stores catering to men should focus their marketing efforts on store inventory depth. Men are more likely to leave the store with a less-than-ideal product just to avoid making another shopping trip.
  • Men use the process of elimination in order to make a decision to buy. They decide which concrete aspects of a product matter most and eliminate products that don’t have those attributes. Marketers should consider providing all the important product benefits and features up front and fill in with the background information later.
  • Contrary to women, men are more concerned if a product is considered feminine than whether it is useful. So it makes sense that if you are selling to men, the product shouldn’t appear too feminine.

Savvy marketers have adapted their stores and aligned their marketing messages to account for these gender differences in order appeal to the widest audience possible. What are you doing at the store level to address these differences?