SLOAN COLUMN:The shopping habits of men and women
The other day I received an advertisement from Kohl’s with a peel-off offer on the back.
“Kohl’s Card Exclusive: Take an extra 30%, 20%, or 15% off when you use a Kohl’s Card.”
I peeled off the blue sticker and it revealed a 30% discount on my entire purchase during my next visit to the store. Not bad, I thought. I needed a new pair of casual shoes and this might be a great chance to get a pair without spending an enormous amount of money. I decided to take my coupon and go shopping during my lunch hour.
Long story short, I spent my entire lunch hour trying on shoes at Kohl’s and left empty-handed. I found a pair of Vans I really liked, but they did not have my size. I tried on several pairs of Skechers, but none felt right or looked right. I walked through the parking lot feeling disappointed and unhappy. I saw the entire trip as a total waste of time.
I thought about the shopping habits of men and women. I think it’s fair to say most women love to go shopping and men don’t. I know there are exceptions, but by and large the ladies find great joy in shopping while men see it as a necessary, but not necessarily likeable, chore.
Ladies can spend hours searching for deals. They have a tendency to want to look through every shelf on every aisle in every department. They see shopping as somewhat of an epic adventure or a tantalizing treasure hunt. A quick trip to Target for a single item often leads to an hour-long spin around the store and multiple unplanned purchases.
Men, on the other hand, have a much more simplistic approach to shopping. We know what we want. We find it. We check out. We leave – as quickly as possible.
Certain that this line of thinking was completely logical, I turned to the Internet to confirm my theory. I soon came across a Wharton University study from 2014 titled, “Men Buy, Women Shop: The Sexes Have Different Priorities When Walking Down the Aisles.” The study revealed seven ways the shopping habits of men and women differ. I share them with you now, along with a few thoughts of my own:
1. Women seek out deals.
“In total, women are consummate bargain hunters. They tend to buy more items that are on sale and shop with coupons more often. Men, on the contrary, spend more per item than women.”
We need a study to tell us this? Finding a great bargain can send a woman into the throes of ecstasy. And when was the last time you saw dad or grandpa clipping coupons?
2. Women spend more when they’re younger, but men spend more as they age. “Women under age 36 outspend men of the same age nearly 2:1. In the 36-44 age bracket, women tend to spend less while men spend a little more. From 45-54, men have the slight edge in spending, and they extend that lead in ages 55-64. After 65, men take the cake.
I was flummoxed by this one, so I asked a co-worker to help me understand. “That’s easy,” she said “Women spend more when they are younger because they want to look good and care about designer clothes and brand names. It’s about image. Men spend more when they get older because they are going through the mid-life crisis or they want to spend it all so their wives can’t take it when they leave them.”
3. Men largely stay away from the beauty and baking aisles.
No explanation necessary.
4. Men spend way more in convenience stores.
“Snacks, sodas, beer, milk and other products found in convenience stores are purchased by men 57% of the time. According to Nielsen research, many brands are already attempting to take advantage of that by bundling items or creating themed deals that are easily seen by the male gender.”
Remember what I said before about men wanting their shopping to be quick and uncomplicated? For us guys, quick and convenient is the way to go.
5. Men buy; women shop.
“(The study) found that women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. While men show favor when it comes to more utilitarian aspects of shopping, including the. availability of parking spaces or whether a specific item they are searching for is currently in stock, women are drawn to the experience. ‘Women think of shopping in an interpersonal, human fashion and men treat it as more instrumental. It’s a job to get done.’” I told you so.
6. Customer service is a big one for women.
“All told, 29% of women identify “lack of help when needed” as the top problem to their shopping experience. In fact, about 6% of all female shopping will take their business elsewhere – for good – if customer service is lacking. Men, however, say their top problem is difficulty in finding parking close to the store’s entrance.”
Men don’t’ need help deciding whether or not to make a purchase. If they have what we are looking for, we are good to go. And speaking of go, a good parking spot makes for a far more pleasant shopping experience.
7. Men spend less time per trip, but take more trips.
“While men may spend less time in the store, they shop with greater weekly frequency, according to Wharton.”
There’s an easy explanation for this finding. The reason men make more shopping trips is because we are directed to (dare I say ordered?) by our wives, fiancées, girlfriends, etc. It’s not that we want to make more shopping trips, its because we have no choice.
So there’s my take on shopping. And by the way, I still have the Kohl’s coupon and I’m still in need a new pair of casual shoes. Ugh!