John Gray’s 1992 book ” Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus ” confirmed what men and women have always known: the two sexes differ in their perspectives, motives, reasons, and actions. Although the reason for the differences (nature or nurture) continues to be debated, study after study reflects similar results, and sophisticated companies have adapted their outreach programs to account for these differences. Everything from advertising style, message, and media, to product design, store layout, sales training, and customer service policies, are designed to specifically appeal to both genders.
The goal of every retailer is:
- Attract buyers
- Make them stay longer in the store
- Influence your purchasing decisions
- Turn them into returning customers
Failure to address gender idiosyncrasies can have real financial consequences for retailers. In an article in the New York Times published on February 16, 2012, Eric Siegel, consultant and president of the conference Predictive Analytics World, said: “We are living a golden era of research behavior. It’s amazing how much we can discover how people think now. ”
The differences between women and men
Whether (and to what extent) men and women differ has been a controversial issue for years. Many scientists worry that perceived differences have led to discrimination and unfair treatment under the assumption that one gender has attributes and the other does not. While there are observable differences between the brains of men and women and how they process information, the researchers emphasize that the differences do not reflect the superiority of a single gender.
Furthermore, studies indicate that sex-specific characteristics are found on a broad spectrum that contains substantial overlap between the sexes. Trying to accurately stereotype a single person is difficult, if not impossible. In other words, if you choose a man and a woman out of the crowd, they could be very similar or different depending on the unique characteristics of each person. However, recognizing the general characteristics of each sex is important for product retailers, especially if your product is designed to predominantly appeal to one or the other sex.
Although both genders are capable of equivalent intellectual performance, there are numerous physical differences between male and female brains:
- Women have a thicker corpus callosum, the bridge of nerve tissue that connects the left and right side of the brain, leading women to use both sides of the brain to solve problems. Men predominantly use the left side of their brain for this purpose.
- Men have approximately 10% larger brain size, but women have substantially more nerve endings and connections (white matter) than men.
- Men and women use different areas of the brain to solve tasks. For example, women use their larger and more organized cerebral cortex to perform tasks, while men rely on the largest proportion of gray matter in the left hemisphere of their brains. As a consequence, women generally identify and control their emotions better, while men focus more on tasks.
These differences allow researchers to attract individual shoppers by aligning marketing messages, advertising, product features, store layouts and displays (including colors), and customer service with expectations of gender and characteristics. purchase of desired customers. Being aware of the influence your gender has on the products you buy and the price you pay can make you a more demanding shopper.
The impact of shopping habits
Whether you’re male or female, your purchasing decisions are based more on habit than rational decision-making, according to Dr. Neale Martin , a professor at Kennesaw State University’s Cole School of Business. Tony Ezell, Vice President of Eli Lilly and Company agrees, using the example of physicians who, acting with their unconscious brain when making decisions, continue to prescribe drugs they are used to, even as they understand that new drugs are better and longer. insurance. Once shopping habits are established, it is difficult to get rid of them because it is human nature to resist change.
Knowing that habit drives most purchasing decisions and consumer behavior, companies focus on the initial purchase decision to gain an advantage before a habit is established, ensuring that their products or services are the beneficiaries of the eventual formation of habits. These efforts focus on the following:
- Initial stimulation of a need . Millions of dollars are spent each year to motivate shoppers to buy particular products in the belief that the products will make them healthier, richer, safer, or more attractive. This is the logic behind special sales , coupons, and discounts. In fact, people going through important events in their life are especially vulnerable to new attractions, as they often do not realize or care that their shopping habits have changed. But retailers notice and care a lot. In these unique moments, wrote UCLA professor Alan Andreasen in a study from the 1980s, clients, both male and female, are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers.” In other words, a just-in-time ad sent to a recent divorcee or new owner can change someone’s buying patterns for years.
- Influence of third parties . Third-party endorsements from friends, social partners, or authority figures influence our product selection. Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “ Contagious: Why things Catch On, ” says, “People often think that contagious products are just lucky. But it is not luck and it is not random. It’s science. ” Berger claims that up to half of all purchasing decisions are based on word of mouth marketing because it is considered more reliable than traditional advertising, even when that is not the case. As a consequence, retailers are constantly searching endorse customers and recruit celebrities as spokespersons for the product to help them get a head start.
- Personal evaluation . Your decision to choose one product over another is influenced by a number of factors, including the attractiveness of the packaging and the method or convenience of payment. These subconscious factors can influence your decision more than price or quality. Understanding your reason for buying one item over another helps you make better decisions.
While it would be impractical (and impossible) to systematically evaluate and objectively determine each purchase, consumers must be aware of the habits that drive their purchasing decisions. In cases where results are more critical (significant differences in price, quality, durability, convenience, or utility), a more rational purchasing process is generally warranted to ensure a successful outcome.
Male and female shopping stereotypes
Despite nearly equal numbers, according to Bloomberg , women make more than 85% of consumer purchases in the United States and reportedly influence more than 95% of total goods and services purchased. Women as a whole are considered more sophisticated buyers than men, and they take more time to make a purchase decision.
Marti Barletta , president of The TrendSight Group and co-author of ” Just Ask a Woman: Cracking the Code of What Women Want and How They Buy, ” explains that men prefer to buy a viable product than keep shopping, while women prefer keep shopping buy hoping to find a perfect solution. In other words, women are more selective and more likely to buy a product that meets all their requirements.
According to a 2007 survey by the AMP Agency , “A woman’s approach to shopping is a very important part of who she is; it’s part of their DNA. ” The way a woman shops when she’s 18 is the same way she shops when she’s 43. It’s a lifelong mindset. This idea was unexpected, as most observers expected that women’s shopping habits changed as they got older.
The AMP study states that women fall into four different mindsets that dictate their respective buying patterns:
- Social catalysts . This group represents just over a third of women. They are usually planners, organizers, take pride in their friendship status, and consider themselves experts within their social circle. As a consequence, they tend to be “influencers”. Almost 80% of this group think a night on the town is money well spent, but they are likely to be looking for bargains to keep up with the latest trends.
- Natural hybrids . This group of stable and balanced women represents about a third of women, slightly less than the social catalyst group. Natural hybrids seem to operate in a continuous state of equilibrium. They know that there is a time and a place for everything: a time to spend and a time to save. His approach to shopping is between safe and practical shopping and splurge. They tend to buy classic products: durable items that are not too fashionable.
- Responsible for content . About a fifth of women do not set or disseminate trends. This group tends to treat shopping like an errand or a chore, rather than a fun experience or adventure. However, they tend to be customers for life and increasingly loyal. 80% do not consider social status to be an important part of their life. Like most men, these loyal, responsible, and practical consumers crave a hassle-free shopping experience.
- Cultural artists . Representing just over 1 in 10, the women in this group are considered the “super shoppers,” constantly trying different things and starting new trends. They are the group companies actively looking for new products.
Women tend to be smarter consumers than men, simply because they are willing to invest the time and energy necessary to research and compare products. At the same time, their bilateral brain approach to problem solving makes them more susceptible to emotional appeals than a man.
Although women are considered to be better buyers, they would benefit if:
- Prioritization of purchases . Aligning the purchase method and source with the cost and use of the product saves time and energy. Not all purchases require a marathon of store visits or extensive comparisons; Some products are commodities with little difference in utility or price and do not justify a great deal of effort in deciding to buy one item over another.
- Use of online shopping More . Women have lagged behind men in replacing in-store purchases with online purchases, a more conducive environment for product and price comparison. Many e-retailers offer smartphone shopping apps that facilitate comparisons to help consumers select the best product for their purpose.
- Resist impulse purchases . Retailers are especially adept at generating emotional purchases with store design, display, and pricing. As a result, normal habits of comparison and evaluation are ignored, often to the detriment of the buyer whose impulsively purchased product is of inferior quality, exorbitantly priced, or of little utility.
An article in Forbes suggests that for most men, shopping for clothes is like “having your own brain surgery.” Another study suggests that male grocery shoppers are “like a dog looking for a lost ball in a field: they frantically cross the plot until they stumble upon what they are looking for by chance.” The same study describes men as “pragmatic shoppers”, who consider success as “leaving with what they came for, having experienced a logical and efficient buying process.”
In other words, men like to get in, get what they need, and get out fast. Men are not great comparison shoppers and are willing to pay a little more to speed up the process than to waste time searching for bargains. In The Wall Street Journal , Delia Passi, CEO of consumer advocacy and research group WomenCertified, says that for men, the worst outcome is leaving a store empty-handed.
According to Jim Foster , marketing consultant and retail coach, “Men generally shop alone. Men rarely compare prices. Men don’t care if the item is on sale. Men don’t really care about color. Men sometimes compare quality, but usually only when it comes to tools. ” Stores serving men understand these trends and focus marketing on inventory depth, technical features, and efficient checkout processes. Less likely Men searching for bargains or using coupons Men are also more likely to accept a less than ideal product and prefer to avoid another shopping trip.
Male consumers would benefit from:
- Be more price conscious and less time sensitive . When buying personal products, men should apply the same techniques that they use when making commercial purchases: understanding how the product is used, who uses it, what features are necessary, and what is offered at different prices. This process takes longer, but results in more efficient product purchasing.
- By becoming more discriminatory . The growth of e-commerce has stimulated new shopping behaviors for men that can eventually be transferred to physical stores. According to an iProspect study , 70% of wealthy men regularly shop online and employ the shopping methods used successfully by women in the physical world. Paradoxically, a 2011 Performics Social Shopping study indicates that men are more likely than women to research and compare products online.
- Anticipate future needs . Unlike women who shop based on their future needs (food for the next week, a dress for an upcoming anniversary), men tend to buy when the need is immediate, limiting the ability to compare or take advantage of discounts, offers or out of offer. seasonal sales.
Shopping is the engine of the nation’s economy. Simon Hoggart, a prominent British journalist, says that shopping, for Americans, is an affirmation of faith in our country. We have a physical, moral and economic reason to buy, but there are no rules that say we should buy or pay higher prices for products that do not fully satisfy our wants and needs.
What kind of buyer are you? How do you make decisions about your purchases?