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Men and women shopping differences

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Face it ... men and women shopping differences may never meet in the middle!

Face it … men and women shopping differences may never meet in the middle!

I’m generally the first one to speak up against stereotypes of any kind.  But there’s one subject where I have no choice but to bow down to the overwhelming evidence, and admit the truth.

I’ll just say it: there are indeed HUGE men and women shopping differences. There, it’s out there! And it happens online and in the brick and mortar world.

Online shopping

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When it comes to online shopping, men and women approach the challenge differently. Studies show that a man shopping for a gift online is usually looking for a one click option and the simplest shipping choice. So it’s not surprising that men are more like to choose a pre-selected gift package over one that requires them to make a number of decisions about the contents.

If men are shopping for themselves online, they typically rate sites sorted by product type highest, probably because it allowed them to quickly chose an needed item without searching. One notable exception to this was in home electronics, where men bought more and spent more money on sites where entire computer systems. home theatre setups or audio components were presented together.


Women, on the other hand, tend to buy more on sites which show elements together in environment shots. That’s why women’s clothing catalog sites usually offer more “outfit” images than men’s online clothing catalogs.

When it comes to gift shopping, studies show that women look for sites that allow personalization and customization over those which offer ready-selected gift packages. So a gift bsket site that allows a customer to choose from among several items to include would probably work better for most female customers than one which offers only pre-arranged baskets.

Brick and mortar shopping

The differences in shopping styles are just as pronouced in standard retail shopping.

Consider these two scenarios. In the first, a man must find a new outfit for an impromptu dinner meeting with the big boss. In the second, it’s a woman faced with that very same task. And to make things even in my make-believe world, both are married. In fact, to each other. Both are professionals, and both are the same age.

Now read on, and tell me if you think I am off base…or right on target.

Joe goes shopping

Joe was on a business trip to the annual convention. Attire for these things is nothing if not casual, so his suitcase was well-stocked with jeans, chinos, polo shirts and casual shoes. But he just got a call that the corporate CEO is in town, and wants to take him out to the finest restaurant in Chicago. And that means a lot dressier than anything he brought.

It’s 3 pm now, and dinner is at 8. No rush. There’s time for a swim, right?

Around 5, Joe heads for the mall, targeting the largest department store. He walks in, tells the clerk he needs something to wear to a jacket and tie dinner, then leans back against the display table while the clerk runs around grabbing suits, shirts, jackets, ties and dress socks.

When it’s all assembled, Joe ambles into the dressing room, and tries on the first shirt. It fits, so he grabs a pair of men’s dress pants in basic black or charcoal grey. Yup, they fit. He scoops up the jackets and ties and heads for the clerk.

“Which one goes?” Oh, and he needs a belt. And shoes. Everything together, he pays and heads back to his rental car 20 minutes after he got to the store. Time for a shower and some TV before dinner. No sweat, but he sure hated wasting all that time shopping.

Jill goes shopping

Same scenario as Joe’s. Same time frame. But when Jill gets the news at 3, she immediately heads for the mall.

First a quick walk around to see which stores are there, and who has the best selection of women’s suits, dresses or dressy pants and tops. Then the first stop.

She turns down the offer of help from the clerk, and starts to gather possible outfits. Nothing looks right, except maybe that blue one. She asks the clerk to hold it, and heads for the next store.

Along the way, she sees a cute stuffed bunny her daughter would love, and stops to buy it. Two more stores, and 16 outfit try-on’s later, she finds something that will work. Now it’s time for shoe shopping.

Dress in hand, she heads for shoe departments and shoe stores, looking for something that’s not too stodgy and yet not too sexy. Coming out of the second shoe store, she sees a book that she knows Joe wanted to read, and stops to buy it.

Finally, the right shoes.  Maybe. But it’s after 6, and she still has to get ready. Oh wait!  An evening purse! Back to the store…there’s the perfect purse!  A miracle! And while she’s there, her mom would like one too. A perfect start on holiday shopping.

Three and half hours later, three gifts in hand, Jill heads back to the hotel to dress. “What a wonderful shopping trip”, she thinks. “I found everything I needed in just a few hours.”

So what do you think?

Yes, I know there are men who love to shop, and women who can run in and out and grab only what they need. But you know it’s true. When it comes to men and women shopping differences, the chasm is wide and deep. And as a woman, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Anyone for a quick trip to the mall? I just need a new outfit for this weekend…and a couple of birthday gifts and something for that blank spot on the living room wall and….


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