Male Shopping Habits Versus Female Shopping Habits

by Joseph Yi on November 25, 2013

Shopping Habits

We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Well, not literally, but males and females are very different types of people. Each gender has a different way of processing information, dealing with problems, and spending free time. You can even take this dichotomy and apply it to ecommerce since it turns out that men and women have different online shopping habits, as well. This factor is especially important if you run a store that sells products geared towards a specific gender. You can shape your store design and marketing strategy around gender habits and, in turn, see a larger response from your targeted audience. Here is how men and women are different when it comes to online shopping.

The Differences in Shopping Psychology

It’s no secret that most men and women view shopping differently as an activity. Based on a survey conducted by the Key Note Media Centre, males tend to view shopping as a chore. They do what needs to be done as quickly as possible and are more than happy to be on their way. As a result, they are less likely to check on competitors’ prices or listen to their friends for advice. So for an ecommerce store aimed towards males, you want to make the experience something extremely simple and straightforward.

Women, on the other hand, treat shopping as a fun event. They tend to bring their friends along during sprees, are more receptive to other people’s opinions, make impulse purchases, and devote a lot of time to shopping. You want to make their online shopping experiences social and comprehensive. Try to add social media features to your product pages and expose female shoppers to as many products as possible. For instance, you can let them share purchases on Facebook, send them product recommendations, and display similar items to the ones in their carts somewhere on your page.

Visually Designing Your Online Store with Gender on the Mind

Men and women perceive colors differently due to a number of environmental and biological factors. It makes sense to have your site’s design and theme be male or female friendly if you are trying to win over a specific gender. From a recent study of 232 people from across 22 different countries, it was shown that blue was the most popular color between both genders, while orange proved to be universally unappealing. The similarities stop there, though. A high number of females indicated fondness for purple (24%), while no male participants listed purple as their favorite at all. Additionally, men preferred bright colors, and the women were more into soft ones. Lastly, men reacted more positively towards shaded colors (colors that have black added to them), while females preferred tints (colors that have white added to them).

For site layout itself, gender again plays a large role in online shopping habits. Between the two sexes, a Shopzilla survey from June 2013 showed that males are more likely than females to make a purchase from a desktop or laptop (87% to 82%), while females were more likely to use a mobile device to complete a checkout (18% to 14%). What this means is that you need an effective mobile webpage if you’re going to win over women customers. Make sure that you can easily browse pages, search for items, and quickly checkout from a mobile device. This same study also mentions that women were slightly keener on making sure they were getting the best price available (77% to 74%). You can capitalize on this by offering in-page price comparisons when your price stands above competitors’.

Formulating the Right Marketing Plan

Once you have your site’s design wrapped up, the next big step is getting people to your website and keeping them happy as customers. The same Shopzilla ecommerce research survey indicated that men and women respond to marketing strategies differently. If you’re in a male-dominated ecommerce subindustry, you want to invest in paid search advertising campaigns and SEO. Men typically like to research products before purchasing, and SEO can drive your website’s rank higher in a search engine results page. Meanwhile, you can continue to attract the consumer’s attention with search engine ads that appear in the results pages’ columns. If you want to get even fancier, you can roll out retargeted search engine ads, which help you drive consumers back to your site after they have visited and interacted with it. Retargeted ads create a continuous branding experience, ultimately driving up your conversion rate.

If you’re trying to win in a women-based subindustry, marketing is a bit different. Women are more responsive to marketing emails, so investing in an email marketing platform would best suit you. The best time to send out online messages is around mid-afternoon when work starts to die down and after dinnertime since that time is usually spent relaxing. Additionally, coupons play a large part in enticing women to shop. 77% of the surveyed participants found that pricing mattered when it came to completing a purchase. Women are going to try their hardest to find as many ways as possible to cut costs, and you should play on that. These coupons don’t have to be direct discounts. You can offer free shipping, specials, and other creative little surprises. What’s good about these two marketing avenues is that it’s easy to combine them, as you can literally send out coupon-filled emails.

Lastly, it pays to know which social media sites are more popular for each gender since you can shift your marketing resources accordingly. Taken from a 2012-2013 Pew Research Center report, both genders have large presences in Twitter and Facebook. However, 72% of all Internet-enabled females use Facebook, compared to 62% for men. The number ratio is tighter for Twitter, with men just edging out a larger presence (18% to 17%). Pinterest in particular saw the largest gap between males and females, with 25% of online women having profiles, compared to just 5% for men.  So to summarize, social media marketing for women and men works well across Twitter and Facebook, and Pinterest is a great avenue if you work in a popular female subindustry.

Conclusion

Men and women react differently to online shopping. If you work in an industry that primarily sells things to just one of the sexes, it makes sense to hone your marketing and site design to appeal to that one gender. While some of the numbers don’t indicate a large difference between the two, keep in mind that every little piece of strategy helps when it comes to winning conversions. For instance, more women complete checkouts via mobile device than men by just 4%, but what if your online store has six figures worth of Internet traffic? If you can service that 4% by making their lives more convenient, that’s a lot of money right there. Anyway, it’s nice to take a look back and see if you in particular are prone to any of these habits. Are you a male who loves clicking on search engine ads? Are you a female who just adores the color purple? Humans can be such fascinating creatures.

About the author

Joseph Yi Since he was a freshman in college, Joseph has worked in several internet startup companies and has developed campaigns and digital strategies for Fortune 500 companies and brands including the Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester City FC, the Oakland Raiders, Sephora, and Whole Foods. Follow Joseph on Twitter.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jan Koch November 26, 2013 at 12:55 am

That’s useful advice Joseph!
I’m currently working on a niche site selling jewelry, so this post comes with a perfect timing. I’ll need to put some more thinking in my colors though ;-)

It’s interesting to see how different men and women behave when it comes to online shopping.

Best regards,
Jan

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