Advertising on male vs female buying behavior

advertising on male vs. female buying behavior. Many studies indicate that men and women shop and buy differently. Men tend to shop less and simply buy what they need, regardless of price, while women tend to shop more, comparing prices and quality. Gender definitely affects how you buy and what you buy, as studies consistently show.

Consumerism is rampant in America, even with the current recession. Retailers have products Americans need and want, and they need to know how to market them successfully to make their businesses grow and prosper. They need to know that men and women have very different buying behaviors, and they need to know how to attract them effectively. As one study notes, “When it comes to shopping, women are from Nordstrom’s and men are from Sears” (“Men Buy”). Women do a majority of the food and clothing shopping for families. Another Web site notes, ” omen remain the main users and purchasers of goods within the cosmetics and toiletries sector, with around eight in ten women stating that they buy the majority of cosmetic and toiletry goods in their household” (“Men and Women’s”). Men tend to shop for home improvement items and some food and clothing.

Women and men interact in the stores differently, as well. Women like to “shop,” for shopping’s sake. They may be looking for a new dress, but they are apt to stop by the shoe department, try a test of perfume, and look at kid’s clothing while they are in the store. Men are far less patient with just shopping, and they want to find what they need and leave as soon as possible. The Wharton research notes, “For men, shopping is a mission. They are out to buy a targeted item and flee the store as quickly as possible, according to new Wharton research” (“Men Buy”). Women are also far more interested in interacting with the salespeople and in customer service, while men tend to want as little interaction as possible.

Most women enjoy the shopping experience, which is why they tend to prolong it, while most men do not enjoy it at all. Women see shopping as a job to do, like the many others in their lives. They are also often stressed, and that can alter their shopping experience. A female advertising executive who wrote a book about women and shopping told a reporter, “They tell her they’re stressed. Feelings about stress in their lives ‘threaded through every one of the 3,000 conversations,’ she wrote. ‘It affects every decision women make about your business, whether it is finance, beauty, technology, health care, entertainment, or retail.’ They want products that make their lives easier” (Raine). If a product is too complicated or time consuming, women will choose another product, something retailers may not fully understand. Making their lives easier and saving time is a big deal for women, but men normally shop as a result of a need. They need a tool or something to complete a task, and shop to find it.

Men and women relate differently to sales associates, as well. Men mainly want information and a fast checkout, while women want to know about the features, and which product is right for them. In fact, more women complained about not being able to get help when they need it as their main irritation when they shop (29%) (“Men Buy”). Women tend to spend longer inside a store or mall than men, and they want to interact more with those around them. Many experts believe this shows subtle differences between men and women. The report continues, “Paula Courtney, president of the Verde Group, suggests that the attitudes expressed toward sales associates reflect subtle, but important, differences between men and women” (“Men Buy”). Men are largely less emotional and reactive than women, and that shows in their buying habits. Most admit they really do not care about interacting with store employees, they just want their item and to be on their way. Women, on the other hand, will not return to a store if they find the salespeople rude, they ignore them, or they do not know their products. For men, those issues are rarely a concern.

There are some areas of buying that are traditionally male-oriented, and where men make the informed, lengthy shopping decisions. One of them is electronics. Another Web site notes, “Men have traditionally been viewed as the main purchaser of electrical goods; however, over recent years, expenditure within this category by women has increased. Retailers must now adopt different strategies in order to target the valuable female consumer” (“Men and Women’s”). For many women, they do not enjoy the details and technology necessary to purchase electronics, even though that trend is changing. They also say they feel intimidated by the electronics marketplace (“Men and Women’s”).

Women’s buying power is increasing because more of them are entering the workforce and earning a living than ever before. Traditionally in the past, men were the major consumers in many areas, because they held the jobs and controlled the spending. Today, that is changing, as women earn their own money and decide how to spend it. Reporter Raine continues, “Indeed, the stakes for retailers are high. Women, who comprise 51.4% of the U.S. population, buy, or influence the purchase of 85% of everything in the average American home” (Raine). Many women are online shoppers, because it is quicker and easier than shopping in person and it saves them time, an important concern for many women shoppers.

Marketing experts are not afraid to say that men and women shop differently because of their gender. Another expert says, “Men and women are simply different,’ she says. ‘It’s important for retailers to remember it’s not only what they’re purchasing, but how they’re doing it'” (“Men Buy”). Many retailers do not break down their advertising to such levels, or they do not understand how to attract their target audience. Some brands, such as beer, understand the differences perfectly, and create their ads to largely appeal to men, who tend to drink more beer than women do. However, some brands are recognizing that women enjoy beer too, and are creating ads that appeal to both the sexes.

Another difference is how women relate to advertisements geared to them. Many advertising executives are men, and when they choose models, even for female oriented ads, they choose beautiful models that many women cannot relate to or identify with. When choosing models, female execs note that women would like to think they could sit down and have coffee with her, or could be her friend. This is far less important in men’s advertising, where they want to be entertained, they want someone good looking, and they want the information they need to decide to purchase the product.

The “Men Buy, Women Shop” survey also showed that women want communication from retailers, so communication should be primary when dealing with women shoppers, and that salespeople and salespeople training is a key to providing good service to women and men. They should be able to recognize the different shopping styles and know how to deal with them. Retailers also need to recognize differences in age, ethnicity, and other areas. The study continues, “She says retailers need to step up and deliver more sophisticated, segmented service, not only taking into account gender, but also age, ethnicity and regional differences” (“Men Buy”). In other words, shopping behavior is not generic among men and women. It is different, and other factors play into buying behavior, as well. A wise retailer will learn about those differences and learn from them to maximize their selling potential to the largest group of buyers they possibly can.

It is also important to note that buying habit change as men and women age. Generally, older buyers worry more about health and appearance concerns, along with worries about how they will care for themselves as they age. A group of writers note, “Generally, older women are more concerned with a wider variety of areas than their male counterparts” (Moschis, Lee, Mathur, and Strautman 6). They also worry about economic independence and maintaining their incomes, especially in this down economy.

Of course, these generalities do not apply to every man and every woman. Many women do not enjoy the shopping experience, which may be while online shopping is growing so quickly. Many men enjoy shopping, and it seems that young men are a growing force in consumer spending; they are spending more on their appearance than ever before. Basing an entire marketing campaign on gender differences is going to lose some consumers in the cracks, because gender roles can blur, and men and women are unique and different, not always conforming to generalities. The Wharton report notes, “Passi acknowledged that many of the observations revealed in the survey still reflect generalities and that many women and men do not fit into the broader patterns” (“Men Buy”). In addition, there are some things that retailers can do that turn off both men and women shoppers. Run out of merchandise, coupons, or store circulars and both men and women are often irritated, often enough they will not return to the store (“Men Buy”).

In conclusion, gender plays an important role in consumer buying habits. Most men do not enjoy shopping, while women do. Most men do not want to spend any length of time in a store, while women do. Women make the purchasing decisions for many items in the home, and they are a growing market for retailers. While men still make the spending decisions on some items, women are responsible for food, clothing, toiletries, and household items in a majority of families. When retailers learn how to market more effectively to women, they will become more successful and profitable, and women will find what they need and want when they shop.


Editors. “Men and Women’s Buying Habits.” 2009. 18 Dec. 2009.


Editors. “Men Buy, Women Shop.” University of Pennsylvania. 2009. 18 Dec. 2009.


Moschis, George P., Euehun Lee, Anil Mathur, and Jennifer Strautman. The Maturing Marketplace: Buying Habits of Baby Boomers and Their Parents. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2000.

Raine, George. “What Women Want.” San Francisco Chronicle. 2003. 18 Dec. 2009.


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