Mars and Venus at the Mall
Men on a mission, women on an adventure when shopping.
This might be a shock, but men and women are as different as Target and Tiffany when they shop, according to recent research from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Men, who have often been accused of being merely replacement shoppers, tend to be more utilitarian when they hit the malls and shopping centers. It’s a mission. Get in. Get what’s needed. Get out. Quickly.
Women, on the other hand, generally like to look around, talk to sales associates and experience the shopping. They walk around, smell perfume, touch clothes, dab on cosmetics. They want attention, and they want direction.
The differences are as primitive as hunter vs. gatherer, said Paula Courtney, president of the Verde Group, which conducted the random study of 1,205 telephone interviews with Wharton’s J.H. Baker Retail Initiative. Ahead of the phone study, four focus-group discussions were held for females and males ranging in ages from 16 to 60. The study is called “Men Buy, Women Shop.”
“Men are very task-oriented while women are very much more about the relationship and the engagement and the interaction with the people at the stores,” Courtney said.
“Don’t point me in the direction and say aisle 6,” one man said during the study. “It’s better if he takes me and says, `There it is.’ “
Better yet is the sales associate who holds men’s hands through the checkout so that they get through it quicker.
Women told surveyors that they liked it when associates showed them different styles and new items. “I told her what I was looking for and why, and she set out to find me the right suit,” said one woman. “I didn’t have to do anything.”
And this might not be terribly surprising, either: Women run into more problems when shopping than men. On the tribulations scale, women’s No. 1 issue was not being able to find help when they needed it. One in three women who were so miffed by the issue that they said they would never go back to the store again.
Men’s biggest headache: Parking. One in three said they hated not finding parking close to the store entrance. But very few of them said they would desert the store forever because of it.
The Clerk Factor
Twenty percent of women said they were ignored by sales clerks, mostly because they thought the clerks were more interested in talking with each other about their weekend plans or were on the phone with friends. A whopping 47 percent of those women said they would never go back to that store.
More men – 22 percent – recounted incidents of feeling snubbed, but only 22 percent of those men considered it a lifelong negative mark.
“Being ignored is a big issue for women,” Courtney said. “It’s a loyalty issue.”
Men ditch stores, too, but their biggest reason to do so is when products are out of stock. Men complained they experienced that when shopping 24 percent of the time compared with it happening to women 21 percent of the time.
But here’s the real kicker: Of those men who complained, 43 percent said they would never shop at those stores again; only 16 percent of women cited that as a reason to stay away.
Age made a difference, too, in shopper loyalty. The younger the shopper, the more likely he or she was to pooh-pooh a store for poor service. The pickiest of all groups were men 18 to 35 years old.