The Differences in Selling to Men and Women

It’s probably no surprise that there are differences in the way men and women shop. Knowing what they are can help you tailor a marketing plan to your male and female customers.

Marketing research shows that women tend to enjoy the experience of shopping and thus spend more time considering their purchases. Men on a shopping excursion, on the other hand, usually have a specific goal in mind and will home in on what they are looking for without distraction.

Take some time to learn the following differences and train your sales staff to deal with men and women clients in the best way to boost your sales:

  • Women like more attention when they shop, and they like salespeople who ask questions, know their merchandise, and make suggestions. Women will browse through several departments, and they’ll ask for help when they make their buying decisions.
  • Men usually know what they want, go directly to that department, choose their item, pay, and get out of the store as quickly as possible. They don't like to browse, and they often don't want much interaction with the sales staff, other than product information.
  • While women make a majority of purchases for the home, including food, clothing, and health care and toiletry products, they are also decision makers on automobiles, appliances, and other major purchases. In fact, women make up 51.4 percent of the U.S. population, but they influence the purchase of or actually buy 85 percent of everything in an average American home.
  • Men usually shop for home improvement items, such as tools, but also have real preferences for food and personal items.
  • More and more women are turning to online shopping for its convenience.
  • Men do shop more for electronics, and they spend more time researching these purchases.

Savvy retailers will train their staff to accommodate the one big difference between men and women shoppers: how they interact with salespeople.

If a male customer is looking at the selection in a store, tell your salespeople they should let him come to them with questions rather than bounding up right away to greet them. However, they should be nearby, ready to answer questions when that person is ready to ask. And your salespeople need to be knowledgeable or be willing to seek the answers to questions. High on the list of men’s complaints about shopping is getting poor information from sales staff.

For women, salespeople should greet them when they enter the store and be ready to suggest merchandise if they ask for help. Twenty-nine percent of women who complain about shopping experiences say they are not able to get help or good customer service when they need it.

Another big complaint from men: spending too much time in the checkout line. While women have more patience with this aspect of shopping, salespeople should always help people through the transaction as quickly as possible.


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