Men vs Women - Know Your Customers

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on September 29, 2012

We all know that the aim of any business is to sell its products or services. So how does a customer buy a product? What goes on in his/her mind? What draws him/her to the conclusion that the product should be bought? How do we know if he/she will remain faithful to the product? Customers go through a range of thoughts while deciding on a product and even post sales. While we observe this behaviour of customers, we find interesting differences in the way men and women decide on a product. As Elayne Boosler has said, “When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.  Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.”

Why do we need to know these differences? We will soon find out. But first, let’s take the case of John and Sonia - and their shopping habits. They are twins, brought up in the same household – for a whole of 24 years.

Shopping tops Sonia’s hobby list. She is always accompanied by her gaggle of girls for the ‘picnic-like’ shopping trips. A normal shopping day for her means that she would be looking for shoes but ends up buying a dress (although at 20% discount). She frequents shops where the salesmen are so friendly – they remember her by name. They even suggest what she looks gorgeous in or if something else would fit her needs better. They message her for special sales previews and call her to upgrade her loyalty cards. Sonia never fails to share great offers with her gal pals, especially on Facebook. She keeps her eyes open for all the amazing deals on online shopping sites like Although she’s a tech-savvy person, nothing gives her a high as much as street shopping does. She’s quite clever at bargaining her way to the best prices. SO WHAT if after putting in numerous hours all she ends up with is ONE dress?

John, on the other hand, needs his work done in the best and fastest way possible. Shopping is a task for him – to get his work done. He generally likes to shop alone. He hates to waste much of his time looking for offers that save him only as little as peanuts (according to him, off course). So he doesn’t mind spending a little more considering the time and effort it saves him. He tries to find information about products online so as to get all the details there could ever be about a product. He will never end up buying something he had not intended to buy. He needs the product to be in stock. For him, the salesman’s interest in helping him find an item is important and also getting it through checkout quickly. SO WHAT if the salesmen do not know his name?

Relate with this? Research shows that most of us fall under these categories. These differences are not that important until used for the right purposes. So, for a salesperson, marketer or as a company, it is imperative to understand not only what men and women purchase but how they do it.

Men and women play different roles in society. Men are generally taught to be more independent while making decisions, whereas women are not that encouraged. Women are made to be caregivers – where it is all personal – all about the human element. Thus, women are also easily influenced.  However, they possess acute shopping awareness as compared to men.

Retailers can hugely benefit from this to locate their target audience, their buying habits, sources of income, etc. They can mould and align all their strategies to attract maximum customers and to hence boost their sales figures. The gender difference is the most obvious yet neglected factor which can be used to generate profits. Though, a step of caution is advised – do not get too involved with this process so as to lose focus from the bigger picture! With that thought, signing off!

This article has been authored by Dhanshri S Wadhwani from Welingkar Institute of Management and Research.

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