The battle of the sexes, this is not. But retailers do have a legitimate interest in knowing if there are differences in how men and women approach in-store shopping – and how they might use these insights to better customize and appeal to both sets of consumers.
Our research sheds a bit of light on these distinctions. Here’s what we found after surveying approximately 1,500 U.S. consumers:
Amazon Go – the walk-in/walk-out concept store with no human cashiers or associates – sounds neat in theory (and may yet end up being a rousing success). But when surveyed, both male and female respondents presented an unusual united front: a reaction that was decidedly tepid. Less than half of each group expressed interest in visiting a purely technology powered (read: no humans) store. Even then, they would go once, purely for the novelty of it.
50 percent of men and nearly 40 percent of women also said they value human interaction of shopping at a physical store. What’s more, a third of women expressed discomfort with the elimination of human jobs in order to create an associate-free environment.
The upshot? Retailers should strike a balance. Technology can make an in-store experience more efficient and personalized but human interaction is what makes it truly personal. Think Apple and Best Buy as the ones to emulate; their associates really are top notch, focused less on sales (although that is the long game) and more on customer education and service.
Women are mobile-first crowd-sourcers.
If you’re a retailer whose customer base is primarily women, our research suggests that more in-store mobile options for them will be a winning strategy (think promotions accessed via mobile while shopping, for one). That’s because women rely heavily on mobile technology as an integral part of the shopping experience, outpacing men in texting and and the use of their phone cameras.
42 percent take pictures of products to remember later, as compared to just one-third of male respondents. 37 percent of women text or chat with family and friends about buying options – and two out of five actively look up promotions, a significant difference from men (24 percent and 27 percent respectively). Men use Google search more than women, reinforcing the stereotype that many men are more in “get in/get out” mode while shopping, less interested in opinions from their personal communities and more eager to get exactly what they came for and then leave.
Women visit stores for confirmation and personalized interactions.
65 percent of women said the ability to easily try on clothes and to receive personalized recommendations are two big motivators for shutting down the computer and walking into a store. They liked confirming how a sweater or pair of jeans worked on them in real life – and they relished the opportunity to hear suggestions from knowledgeable associates. Only 55 percent of men felt the same way.
But men are more eager to embrace in-store interactions.
The majority of men want to interact with retail staff – likely because it helps them get in and get out more quickly. Makes sense: a knowledgeable associate can take you to the styles and sizes that are right for you – and then quickly usher you into a fitting room, ultimately getting you on your way faster. Perhaps that’s why nearly three-quarters of those we surveyed always or frequently interacted with sales associates at retail stores – and nearly a third said an unresponsive sales associate was their biggest pet peeve in a store (versus women, who registered at 65 percent and 23 percent respectively).
So just what can a brick-and-mortar retailer do to increase those visits? We asked that question too – and the research says:
- Put your stores in a convenient location (men and women are pretty adamant about this – 60 percent of each group flagged this as important).
- Offer some food and drink… For anyone who’s ever thrown a party, this is obvious. Feed and water your people – and they stick around. 43 percent of women – versus 39 percent of men – signaled this would be an enticing perk.
- …and give shoppers a place to relax. Have a seat. Take a load off. Put your feet up. Whatever your euphemism, both men and women like the notion of a comfortable lounge area to rest in (presumably between purchases).
What do you think retailers should do to differentiate in-store?