Shopping by Gender: Vive la Différence

By Pan Demetrakakes
Men and women are alike in many of the most important shopping behaviors, but they also differ in certain significant ways, according to a new survey from Interactions Marketing.
The nationwide survey, done in May 2015, gauged similarities and differences by gender in shopping behavior and attitudes. The biggest takeaway is that many of the basic demands, such as good prices in a clean store, cut across gender lines.
“Our latest report shows that men and women each want a unique experience tailored to their needs and preferences, but they’re not so different from each other in what they demand from retailers,” says Lance Eliot, vice president of information technology with Interactions. “With the lines blurring, the opportunity for retailers lies in creating an experience that equally delights male and female shoppers.”
One similarity uncovered by the survey is the importance of sales associates. Nearly identical percentages of respondents said: they have purchased a product that they hadn’t heard of before because a store associate recommended it (55 percent men, 52 percent women); they had stopped shopping at a store because of a bad experience with an associate (39 percent men, 37 percent women); they bought additional items because an associate recommended them (67 percent men, 64 percent women); they would rather learn about a product from a store associate than research it themselves (39 percent men, 37 percent women).
On the other hand, both genders were almost equally likely to use technology to shop. Of the respondents who had downloaded mobile apps from retailers, 80 percent of women and 77 percent of men use them while they shop in the retailer’s store.
Technology, however, also forms the basis of certain gender-based differences. Among shoppers who use digital wallets, 44 percent have left a store without buying anything because it didn’t accept the payment option they used; only 34 percent of women have done so. When it comes to shopping purely through a retailer’s app, 10 percent of men have done so, but only 2 percent of women.
Another sex-based difference is what might be called cross-gender purchases. Only 25 percent of men said they have bought, for their own use, products marketed primarily to women; the corresponding figure for women is 46 percent. When female respondents who did this were asked why:
• More than 62 percent said they believe products marketed to men are of higher quality;
• 60 percent preferred the design or color of such products;
• 55 percent said they were cheaper than the female alternative.
Other gender-based differences uncovered by the survey include: Men are more likely to try competing brands, sign up for retailer apps and loyalty cards, and read all product information before buying. Women are more likely to make an impulse purchase, invite others to shop with them and shop for leisure.
Takeaways from the survey for retailers include: Pay attention to your associates’ performance, especially customer interactions; take advantage of apps and social media; consider accepting mobile wallet payments if you have not done so; and cater to “gender benders” by marketing and merchandising items that primarily cater to one gender in such a way that the other finds them accessible.
“In a world where personalization is paramount, every shopper attribute matters,” Eliot says. “But even with the different shopping behaviors, retailers and CPGs should aim to effectively enhance customer engagement equally between genders.”
To access the Interactions Marketing report, click here