‘Men Buy, Women Shop’: The Sexes Have Different Priorities When Walking Down the Aisles
Women are happy to meander through sprawling clothing and accessory collections or detour through the shoe department. They like to glide up glass escalators past a grand piano, or spray a perfume sample on themselves on their way to, maybe, making a purchase. For men, shopping is a mission. They are out to buy a targeted item and flee the store as quickly as possible.
Men are more likely to respond to more utilitarian aspects of the experience — such as the availability of parking, whether the item they came for is in stock, and the length of the checkout line. Women tend to be more invested in the shopping experience on many dimensions.
Women’s role as caregiver persists even as women’s professional responsibilities mount. This responsibility contributes to women’s more acute shopping awareness and higher expectations. On the other hand, after generations of relying on women to shop effectively for them, men’s interest in shopping has atrophied.
Women think of shopping in an inter-personal, human fashion and men treat it as more instrumental. It’s a job to get done.
Male and female shoppers also have different reactions to sales associates. For men, an associate’s interest in helping them find an item is most important, followed by the sales associate’s effort in getting them through checkout quickly. For women, store loyalty is related to sales associates’ familiarity with the products in the store and an ability to determine what products best suit the customer. Women shoppers also value sales associates who make them feel important.
Communication is critical to reaching women shoppers. Sales associates need to understand whether the shopper is looking for a product that will come out of disposable income, such as cosmetics, or a more essential and difficult to understand product — such as an over-the-counter drug or first aid treatment. Helping shoppers in those two different categories requires different styles of communication. Sales associates must be trained to recognize and react to shoppers’ cues.
Gender is one of the easier customer attributes to address in a strategic fashion. Truly sophisticated marketers could get into attempting to differentiate services by gender and age or between professional women and those who manage households full-time. At some level, what is practical and ideal start to diverge, but gender is a pretty simple segment to do differently.