The Buyology In Men And Women - A Comparative Analysis

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2636 , Published on 29 October 2013
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Over the years, advertisers had focused on issues from a male point of view with most goods and services-even the ones catering to women- looked at from such a view point. The new breed of researchers has proved that this essentially could be detrimental for a brand. Theorists like Tom Peters have said that women will be the future primary purchasers of almost every good and service. Paco Underhill, the author of books like Why we buy and What Women Want has clearly stated that shopping is female. It is hence necessary to take a closer look at this aspect of advertising.


Buying behaviour of men and women has been researched over the years and the fact that women have been neglected by large sections of the marketers remains true. On the other hand while certain marketers had the presence of mind to look at women as a strong target audience who wielded influence, they gained.

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Men have traditionally been driven by agentic goals of dominance and assertiveness while women have been driven by communal goals of harmony and fostering of relationships; their shopping also is on the same lines. It is only practical to look at men as hunters and women as gatherers. Men will go in and purchase what he needs when he feels that there is a necessity. Most of his purchases happen when the product has been used up or a need arises. Women on the other hand go in for a purchase due to dissatisfaction from a long term consideration. Women tend to think a lot before going in for a purchase; they do not go wait till the product has been used up.


The hunter-like goal oriented shopping is always visible in men. They move in and make a purchase. Not much thought goes into his purchase. Women on the other hand bring out her forager mentality when making a buy. They scan various options, carefully weigh the options and buy the product that best suits her needs. It can be seen that none of the ads for male products have any sort of comparisons being made. On the other hand, most of the female products are compared in ads. The latest ad from Fair and Lovely where comparison is made with how the cream is much better than the costlier counterparts is an example for this trend. Similar is the case with malt beverage ads. They are invariably compared and it is to be noted that the women are the ones involved in the purchase of the product.


Women want to understand the underlying dynamics of a purchase while men tend not to be bothered about these issues. Hence, women take a long time for their shopping while men are in and out in a jiffy. It might therefore be a dampener for women if they are targeted through promotions or advertisements that say till offers last or contact us now.


Women go in for a purchase not for just buying the product. They would like to soak in the shopping experience. They tend to consider it as a fun event for them. Men consider it as a task to be achieved more than anything else. It is highly improbable that they consider shopping as an experience.


Men like to make absolute distinctions when making a purchase. They seek clarity of thought and dislike their ideas being clouded and tend to believe that what they see is what it really is. Men hence like to buy individual items. Women on the other hand like a slight lack of clarity. They seem to think “it depends”. This is the reason why women go in for ensembles; they very rarely tend to buy individual items. It is often an ensemble that pleases them.


A love for disorganized purchase environment or choices is always evident in women. They like to pick and choose the things that they buy. Touch, feel, smell and visual stimulations are essential for women. This is a reason why most women tend not to shop online while it is a rage among men. Men just want a rough idea of what they are in for. The other aspects are not of much importance to them.


Being compulsive shoppers, men would like to have the products easily visible. It is improbable that he will go looking for a particular product if it is not visible to him; he will go in for a substitute. Similarly, if there is a huge variety at a man’s disposal, it is possible that he might not look at it a second time because he dislikes confusion. Women on the other hand relish this and would be wooed by the variety that they see. The examples of Axe deo for men and Spinz deo for women are testimony to this fact. While Axe advertises only one of its fragrances, Spinz brings in all its fragrances into the picture.


Women are perfectionists when they shop. They require as much information as available to them. Men on the other hand tend to be bogged down when there is a lot of information at their disposal. It creates a clutter in their minds and affects their thought process. Therefore, it is necessary that women are given as much information as possible while men are given only what is necessary. The ads for male and female shampoos are testimony to this fact. While the men shampoo ads talk only a few things, the female shampoo ads is loaded with information. Considering the ads of Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Pantene shampoo confirm this fact. While Clear spoke only about how the scalp of men and women are different, Pantene speaks about numbers and the benefits and the ingredients.


Men tend to shop alone. They feel that it is a goal that has to be achieved. They do not generally go in for an in depth search for info on a product until it reallyintrigues them and this is a rare scenario. It is unlikely for a man to go in for a purchase purely on the words of another individual even if it is a close friend. He weighs his options on his own. Women on the other hand are highly swayed by the opinions of their loved ones. They take the suggestions very seriously and their purchases often border on these suggestions. Putting it in simple terms, men are interested in individualistic power while women are more interested in security. It can be seen in most ads that while there is very rarely an individual who advises a man on any purchase of his, ads for women products always have someone advising them. The Vivel range of soaps ad is a classic example of this. On the other hand, barring very few ads like the ones for fairness creams, most ads for men feature the male alone in his avatar. All the male perfume and deo ads are examples for this.


“Personal” products are the favourite for men. They tend to only notice the products that have been created for them. Women on the other hand tend notice things in products that have an effect on their loved ones too. This is again an example where the communal goals of women come to the fore. Men like info that is personally relevant while women want info that talks also for her dear ones. The Hamam soap ad with the mother being more worried about the skin issues that might arise for her child if she went out to play while the dad is casual and thinks only about him is an example of this. Whereas most male products have only them in it; consider the example of two wheelers and cars.


On the innovativeness scale, men tend to be more innovative than women in most situations. Men like to take risks and chart the “untreaded” path. Women are more on the safer side and wait for someone to suggest a product to them. Hence, it might be a very difficult proposition to sell a new product to them while it might be a piece of cake to sell to a man. Most of the mobile phone ads initially have men featuring in them. It is very rarely that women feature in ads of new range of phones or any gadgets. The latest example is the Samsung Galaxy S4 ad in which women are merely props if not anything else.


Female consumers are more loyal than their male counterparts to individuals than an organization. On the other hand, men are more loyal to the organization than individuals. As women are more personal in their relationship they value the hair dresser, sales person or a doctor more than the hair salon, store or a hospital. Though both men and women are loyal but on different scales. This trend is also seen in the purchase they make. Men are more worried about the availability while women are more into the opinion of sales persons and their likes and dislikes. Men would not risk going to a shop that is quite far away if their required product is available at a nearer store. Women on the other hand will do that if they feel comfortable with an individual.


On the personal connect front, women crave for a personal connect with the products that are being advertised while men just want to show off their power. It can be noted that most ads cater to this element brilliantly. While the ads for shaving creams show scantily clad women swooning over a clean shaven man, the women products show bonding between women as a main theme- consider the examples of VJohn shaving cream and Dove soap respectively.


Though all these examples and findings stand true with numerous researchers scientifically proving its authenticity, it is necessary that it may not always be true in every scenario. There can be the odd orange in a basket of apples. The scenario and situation can also dictate what an individual does no matter what his gender. Though it is considered that women tend to spend more time in stores when making a purchase, it is possible that a man can also spend more time in a purchase if he is involved in it. Hence, it is necessary for a marketer to understand that while these generalizations stand true, certain exceptions are possible.


This article has been authored by Eldho K Poulose from LIBA



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