Is Your Gender Influencing Your Shopping Behavior?

Have you ever shopped with your boyfriend or girlfriend and thought he or she was going to drive you crazy? While you may think it is just you, your aggravation is really more about how men and women shop.

Researchers have found that, in general, women like to look around and find items to buy while at a store. This is known as “grazing;” therefore, researchers call this shopping style “the gatherer.” Men, on the other hand, typically go into a store with one intent: buy what they came for and get out fast. Researchers call this shopping style “the hunter.” As you can imagine, hunters and gatherers don’t always get along.

Here are a few interesting gender and shopping statistics:

  • Women look at price tags 86% of the time, compared to men who only peek at the price 72% of the time.
  • Male shoppers who try on a piece of clothing buy it 65% of the time, compared to female shoppers who buy it only 25% of the time.
  • Men prefer to get answers to their questions online or by reading a user’s manual, compared to women who prefer to get their answers by asking the salesperson.

Retailers use this data to target their environment toward their main demographic. For instance, stores for female consumers are highly staffed to make sure customers get questions answered quickly. At clothing stores, they often put the dressing rooms closer to the men’s section to increase the likelihood of guys trying on the clothes. Once a man makes this effort, he is highly likely to make a purchase. No matter where the dressing room is women will make the trek.

What Type Of Shopper Are You?

How can you tell if you are a gatherer or a hunter? Answer the following questions “true” or “false” and find out:

  1. I like to know exactly what I am going to buy before I enter the store.
  2. I prefer to go to several stores and look at what each has when I shop.
  3. When I try clothes on, I am more than likely to buy it.
  4. I always look at price tags when I am shopping.
  5. When I have a question about a purchase, I avoid asking the salesperson for help and try to figure it out on my own.
  6. I shop with other people because it is more fun.

If you answered “true” to 1, 3, and 5, chances are you are a hunter. You like to set your sights on an item and go buy it. If you answered “true” to 2, 4, and 6, you are most likely a gatherer. You love to spend time poking around a store. Typically, hunters are men and gatherers are women, but don’t worry if that does not ring true for you. With any gender research, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Now that you know your shopping style, here are three money-saving tips for each.

If You Are A Gatherer

  1. Set a budget. Make sure you set a dollar amount you don’t want to exceed when at the store. Because you love to find things along the way, it may be easy to go over budget.
  2. Practice the 24-hour rule. If you find something you want, don’t run to the cashier right away. If possible, leave it there. If you still really want it a day later, return and make the purchase.
  3. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Shopping with friends can be fun, but just because they spend money doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget. Be careful purchasing stuff to just fit in. A true friend won’t care if you spend money or not. They just want to hang out with you.

If You Are A Hunter

  1. Be spontaneous sometimes. You are great at researching, but remember to be open to a good deal when you see it. You may come to buy one product but find out that another product is just as good. Know it’s OK to change course and be spontaneous—especially if you find a better deal.
  2. Time is money. Researching a purchase thoroughly takes time. While this is admirable, remember that your time is valuable too; know when to stop hunting and make a buying decision.
  3. Give gatherers some time. If you have friends who are gatherers, respect that they like to shop around a bit. This activity may not be your first choice in how to spend time, but give them an extra 30 minutes of shopping—and focus on the fun you are having hanging out with them, not that it is at the mall!

No matter how you like to shop, know that your friends, roommates, and partners may have conflicting styles. Opposites often attract, so take a deep breath and appreciate how others like to shop. While it may not be your style, you may just learn a tip or two along the way that makes shopping for you a whole lot better.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Chris Chen says:

    Thank you for writing on shopping behavior. As a financial planner, I find that men and women also tend to have different planning and investment styles. I have not thought about it enough to modelize it like you have.

    However, it appears that women’s gatherer behavior leads to a more cautious investment style, with more reliance on a scout (me). Men on the other hand like to do their own scouting as part of their hunt, and end up with a more focused strategy.

    I was wondering if you have insight on this aspect of gender difference?

  • kbk says:

    Behavioral research studies support your experience of women being more cautious when investing and men being more risk taking. While this does not apply to all clients it is something that is often talked about. In terms of gender differences, it may be partly because women view wealth as security for their family and future generations and therefore, are more risk averse as a result. Whereas men typically view wealth as status and power to be increased. Also women tend to make better long term investors as once they decide they stay with the investment made, whereas men chase returns. The bottom line is having a gender lens is helpful as long as you check out these assumptions with each client as everyone is unique. Thanks for the inquiry. Kathleen

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