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Gender Differences in Shopping

Updated on April 7, 2012
Source

The following is a study I conducted in March 2012.

Look at the humorous cartoon to the right. Have you ever wondered if this stereotype is true? Women take forever to shop and spend more money, whereas men are in-and-out with a much lower budget? To see if this stereotype held any truth, I went into three stores: Target, Home Depot, and Beauty Brands. I observed behaviors of men, women, and couples. And below are the results I found. (For the full information and more details on the experiment, see my complete site.)

My Question

How do men and women differ in consumer behavior / shopping habits?

My Research

I went into three stores:

  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Beauty Brands

I observed:

  • 5 men per store
  • 5 women per store
  • 5 couples per store

I took notes on the following factors:

  • Number who come in "with a purpose"
  • Number who stop to look at an item for more than 1 minute
  • Number who touch items before making a choice
  • Number who shop while talking on their cell phone
  • Number who look at three or more items before choosing


Statistical Findings

Here are the statistical findings I had from observing in the three stores. *Please note that only two men were found in Beauty Brands at the time of observation.

Men Shoppers

 
Target
Home Depot
Beauty Brands
Come in "with a purpose"
80%
60%
100%
Stop to look at an item for more than one minute
60%
80%
0%
Touch items before choosing
40%
100%
50%
Shop while talking on the phone
0%
20%
0%
Look at three or more items before choosing
20%
40%
0%

Women Shoppers

 
Target
Home Depot
Beauty Brands
Come in "with a purpose"
20%
40%
0%
Stop to look at an item for more than one minute
80%
80%
80%
Touch items before making a choice
100%
100%
100%
Shop while talking on the phone
60%
60%
40%
Look at three or more items before choosing
80%
60%
100%
In couple situations, the man tends to meander behind.
In couple situations, the man tends to meander behind. | Source

Qualitative Findings

Women

  • Mull over decisions longer
  • Shop more with friends and children
  • Socialize more on the phone while shopping
  • Linger and look around more

Men

  • Come into store quickly
  • Oftentimes do not have a cart
  • Interacted with more items in Home Depot
  • Only asked for help in Beauty Brands

Couples

  • 67% of women pushed the cart in couples situations
  • Men tended to linger behind women
  • Men stepped up a little bit in Home Depot, but not as much as you might expect

Here is a woman who took 5 minutes to decide which book to grab.
Here is a woman who took 5 minutes to decide which book to grab. | Source
This man scans the aisles without touching.
This man scans the aisles without touching. | Source

Conclusions

This experiment helped me conclude a variety of things. Particularly, it allowed me to see how retailers and manufacturers have capitalized on knowing these differences in gender habits. And of course, I was able to confirm the fact that the shopping stereotype holds truth. But, for more thorough thoughts on how these conclusions relate to the marketing world, check out my full site on the experiment. The site also includes more pictures from the field, more observations, and continuing questions.

Comments

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    • Onlinestrategies profile image

      Onlinestrategies 

      5 years ago

      The shopping habits varies from person to person. Yes, the gender difference makes a great difference on what we are shopping and how we are shopping. The things you buy from a shop is directly proportional to the time you spent in a shop.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      5 years ago

      I couldn't believe how your findings were so right.I can go into hme Depot and touch everything then decide not to buy.Just window shopping I guess.Have a great day.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Home Depot rocks, Crabtree & Evelyn not so much. Now I've given away my gender.

    • Courtney L J profile imageAUTHOR

      Courtney L J 

      6 years ago

      Haha, yes I was thinking that the men "loose" in Home Depot may be sneakily more interested in what they were doing, but this did not seem to be the case, generally. They still were on the search for nuts and bolts, then getting out of there! I'm sure the day of week, area of store, etc. would affect this. With more in-depth research, this experiment would be perfected!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, this makes me think of the women in my family. The men? NEVER! If you let them loose in Home Depot, though...did you have to get those pictures on the sly? Hehehe. A regular detective. ;)

    • deepateresa profile image

      DEEPA JOHN 

      6 years ago from Trivandrum, Kerala,India

      You are correct. I do go for shopping, and even if I have a correct reason for what, I just wander here and there, check for new stuffs etc and finally reaches my point... I just love wandering in shopping mall, it does gives me the effect of a small outing done ;)

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Yep, I think your findings are very true. For men it is to get what they want only, for women it is also a social activity.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • Courtney L J profile imageAUTHOR

      Courtney L J 

      6 years ago

      Mactavers-

      Yes. It seemed that no man was in these stores just to "look around." Whereas women often invite their girlfriends out for a shopping trip. What are they looking for? Nothing in particular! It's as if shopping is a sport. Appreciate the comment.

      -Courtney

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 

      6 years ago

      I think your findings are true. I'll say, "I'm going shoppingaa' and my husband will usually ask, "What for?" My response is usually, "I just want to get some ideas for..."

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