The shopping experience is remarkably different for women and men. For women, it is often a form of pleasure and can even be a stress reliever at times. For most men, shopping is a source of stress and is low on their list of pleasures.
A study WomenCertified did in 2007 in conjunction with the Wharton School, entitled “Men Buy, Women Shop,” revealed just how different the experience is for the sexes. Men put high priority on getting their objective achieved quickly and efficiently. A parking space near the entrance was their most important concern.
On the other hand, women prioritize the personal assistance they receive when shopping. They want to feel important to the retailer and expect personalized attention from sales associates. Women value a good parking space, but it has more to do with how far they have to carry their purchases when they are done shopping than making a quick escape from an unpleasant chore.
When I train groups of men on how to sell effectively to women, I often ask how long it takes them to purchase a white shirt. Some men say it takes 30 seconds, presumably once they find a parking space near the door.
For women, a mission to purchase a white blouse boils down to buying not just any white blouse but buying the right white blouse — the perfect blouse within her budget. It can mean visiting several stores and possibly returning to the first store she visited to make her purchase. The fact that it might have taken an hour or more is often of little consequence if she found exactly what she wanted.
The average woman today is busy, and saving time is important to her, but it isn’t the top priority. With growing time pressures from her career and family obligations, she has a lot to do. She appreciates a retailer that helps her achieve her objectives quickly and painlessly, so she can then focus on finding time to shop for other things she would like to have.
To facilitate this and win her loyalty — a prize of great value — retailers and non-retail brands should implement marketing practices that ease her shopping challenges. Of course she will choose you over her alternatives if you take care of her.
Brick-and-mortar businesses should get her email or phone number — a permission to send her information on upcoming sales and new products similar to others she’s bought from you that she may be interested in seeing. If you’re going to press for her to “like” you, you have to give her some reason to stay connected.
Ask for her feedback on social media and respond quickly if it is not positive. Always seek to help her say good things about your business to her friends, family and associates. Women can be quick to share both positive and negative opinions. If she has a positive experience, she will share it with those close to her. If she has a bad experience, she may share it with everyone she can, so bad impressions can spread further and faster than good impressions.
Make her life better and her shopping experience easier. If she comes to your store in the mall, make it easier for her to come back. Give her a map and even a note card to jot down what she found there and its cost. The old notion that she shouldn’t be allowed to leave without buying doesn’t always hold true for women. She may be off to comparison shop or to ask her friends what they think before making that purchase. If you’ve done your job, she’ll be back.
Tailor your shopping experience and your marketing to better meet the needs of women, and you won’t regret it. Women influence most purchases, and their purchasing power is still growing. Don’t be the last to catch on.