Data Reveals Shocking Truth: Men and Women Shop Differently [INFOGRAPHIC]

Where are your customers on the gender divide?

If it’s backed by data, it’s not sexist. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. If the data says it’s true, it’s not stereotyping. We all know men and women shop differently. Except when they don’t. So this daring infographic, conspiring with the numbers to perpetuate some of our favorite stereotypes definitely caught our eye.

We were intrigued because you could replace the word “Men” with “Relational Shopppers” and the word “Women” with “Transactional Shoppers” and this infographic would still make sense.

We’ve written about relational versus transactional buying behaviors before. Did you tune us out? Just like a man, amiright ladies?

If we were to take the low road, we’d gleefully embrace the stereotypes presented here. However, we’ve chosen to take this opportunity to redirect our attention to two important buying behaviors that you can use to increase sales on your website.

Yes, there are real differences between men and women. Take a few deep breathes if this comes as a shock.

The infographic from eCommerce Platforms affords us the view that men and women tend to fall on either side of the transactional/relational buying divide. Women tend to be more transactional whereas men are more relational.

What’s transactional about women’s shopping preferences? According to the infographic:

        

  • They are responsive to marketing emails, coupons, and sales.
  •     

  • They are more selective about products and are more likely to buy something that fits all of their requirements.

And what’s relational about men’s shopping preferences?

        

  • They need detailed product descriptions and product comparisons.
  •     

  • Their need is immediate, so they’re less likely to be shopping just for the sake of shopping.
  •     

  • They are less interested in discounts.
Different buying behaviors of men versus women
Different buying behaviors of men versus women (women are pink and men teal)

Some statistics that sum it up best tell us that price is less important to men that it is to women. The greatest fear of a transactional shopper is paying too much and, as women are more likely to do, will shop longer to get a bargain. Relational shoppers see the shopping process as part of the cost. Like men, they will pay more to reduce shopping time.

Shopping behaviors of men versus women
Women’s behaviors are in pink; men’s in teal.

That stereotype that women love the experience of shopping holds up if we’re to believe that they shop based on future needs and that they are more likely than men to be shopping for other people as well as themselves. It’s the opposite for relational shoppers and men. Shopping needs to be easy and uncomplicated.

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Move Past the Stereotypes

Not every woman is a transactional shopper and not every man is relational. But designing for your stereotypically transactional woman will pay off for transactional men as well. Relational shoppers will respond to relational buying cues regardless of their sex.

As I studied this infographic, I couldn’t help but think about my own (female) shopping behaviors. I mentally went through a checklist for each item that supposedly applied to me and which did not. Turns out, I’m kind of a dude.

With this realization, I was immediately taken back to my middle school and high school days when my older, cooler brother asked me to go to the mall with him. If that was the road to his approval, obviously I was going to be into shopping. New favorite hobby, right? Wrong. I hate shopping!

I went back through the entire infographic, checking off his behaviors this time. Turns out, he’s kind of a girl.

For the most part, I’m pretty girly and he’s a bro, but we don’t fulfill gender expectations when it comes to online shopping. What stuck out the most to me is that my needs are immediate and his rarely are. If you don’t have an immediate need, why else would you be looking to spend money except that you enjoy the experience?

future vs immediate needs

It’s the same idea with impulse buying or being logical with your purchases. I almost always spend a lot of time mulling over whether I actually need something, and I try to think through all of the ways that buying a particular item is going to make my life easier or how often I’ll use it if I buy it.

impulse vs logic

A more subtle character trait is how we choose what we’re going to buy.How to choose which product to buy

Here are a few of my brother’s most trusted review sources.

My brother's review sources
My brother’s review sources

Nope, you don’t know these people. They’re just a bunch of his friends.  On the other hand, I used to be a librarian, so the reviews I trust look a little different.

My review sources
My review sources

I also noticed an area where marketers could easily get my brother to spend more money.

The online shopping experience

He has never really been into social media, but he recently joined Instagram, and it felt like our family dynamic changed overnight. I now get a play-by-play of his life complete with as many hashtags as he can imagine.

Documentation of a very successful shopping trip
Documentation of a very successful shopping trip

Since he’s still new to social media his hashtags are mostly jokes, but eventually he’s going to realize that he can use them so that they’re searchable. When that day comes, I’m sure I’ll be flooded with hashtags about Yeti coolers, Bud Lite with Lime, and whatever brand makes those flip-flops with the beer bottle opener in the sole. He will absolutely love sharing and being able to see how other people are using all of the things he loves.

Since I’m on the other end of the spectrum, I don’t have a Facebook screenshot to share about the Warby Parker at-home try-on sunglasses that just came in the mail. You just won’t find me posting about my online shopping experiences. Instead I’ll be posting cute pictures of my cat.

This is Frankie, and she's wearing a cute hat.
This is Frankie, and she’s wearing a cute hat.

What’s the moral of the story?

There is actual data to support the claim that, in general, the shopping behaviors of men and women are different. But there is also plenty of evidence that stereotypes don’t always hold up or that individuals are complex in their buying behaviors. And even that transactional versus relational shopping behaviors are situational.

When it comes to increasing conversions for your own business, being able to generalize about your buyers could be helpful, but not as helpful as using data specific to the visitors of your own website, not just the internet as a whole.  What if all of your customers are just like my brother and me?

Infographic describing the differences between men's and women's shopping behaviors

Thanks to ecommerce-platforms.com for sharing.

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Trina Bolfing is the Content Scientist at Conversion Sciences.