Saturday, July 2

Men Are the New “IT” Shoppers

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We’ve always known that there’s a significant difference in the way that men and women approach shopping in “real life” stores. However, we have long thought that our approach to online shopping was similar and therefore resulted in a similar speed and efficiency when shopping. I mean, why would our online shopping habits differ when we generally shop at the same stores, use the same tools (ie: a pc) and can shop from the comfort of our own home?

In a recent article by Ray A. Smith in The Wall Street Journal (3/13/08), Smith writes about recent gender focused market research that has been carried out by various stores and research companies; targeted specifically at online shopping. The results showed numerous differences in the attitude of men and women regarding the speed and efficiency at which they shop.

So which of the genders came out tops? Which one is it that online shops are suddenly focusing all their attention on? You may be surprised to hear it, but the answer is: Men.

A Recent survey conducted by BIGresearch, showed that nearly 90% of men said they “regularly” or “occasionally” shop online, as opposed to about 86% of woman surveyed. On top of that, research showed that on average, men spend more money, in less time and return fewer products. – An online shop’s dream.

More money

According to market researcher NPD Group, the purchases of men’s apparel last year increased by 4.4% worldwide, where the purchase of women’s apparel increased by only 1.1%. Research also shows that men are much more likely than woman to buy luxury items of 500 Euros (about R6 000) or more.

Less time

“Men tend to value their time more,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst. On average, men around the world take a third of the time it takes women to make a purchase. Men tend to be less research focused and just want to enter a shop, purchase what they need and exit. Women on the other hand, tend to be a lot fussier about what they buy. They take the time to browse sites and look for bargains and promotions in order to ensure that they find the lowest prices on all their goods (good news for PriceCheck!). Women also tend to be easily distracted when shopping. They might go to a store looking for a pair of socks and notice that there’s a promotion on some other product in the store, causing them to veer off course for a while and check out the promotion.

Fewer returns

Afore mentioned – Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research Inc. – found that men return less than 10% of their purchases, whereas women return more than 20% of theirs. This is an obvious nightmare for online stores. “As long as the product is good enough, men are less likely to return it,” says Mulpuru.

Change in strategy

The results of this research have prompted many online shops to re-evaluate the structure of their websites, as well as their marketing strategies.

Representatives from Neiman Marcus, which owns online fashion store Bergdof Goodman, said:”In the past, the men’s merchandise on the Web site was geared to what women would buy for the men; now, it’s oriented toward the increased numbers of men who are shopping for themselves.” As a result, Bergdof have significantly increased their range of men’s products and have recently sent out their first ever men’s spring catalogue, with the goal of attracting more men to their website. Women have long received these kinds of catalogues.

Some shops have “beefed-up” their men’s section in reaction to these survey results, others have gone as far as launching entire new web pages specifically for their male shoppers. Men prefer different styles of websites to woman. Where women don’t mind browsing and taking their time shopping, men prefer it if they can see as much information on one page, saving them the hassle of browsing back and forth.

There is no doubt that shopping online is on the “up and up” for both men and women. It will however be worth keeping an eye on shops and their marketing strategies over the next couple of years to see how they adapt to an ever-changing market.

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