How Women Shop Online Part 2

Ok – I know I’ve been somewhat of a cranky-pants lately – so today I’m going to be effusive and gushing and showering in praise. 

Yeah right.

But I do have some good things to say about an interesting article on how men and women shop online…what’s the same and what’s different. 

Resource Interactive conducted a study with comScore Networks about how men and women shop differently online.   They wanted to come up with the answer to the question: Given the different online shopping styles of men and women, how can online merchants set up their sites to maximize sales from both genders?

Here are some of the key findings of the research:

Stick to Their Mission vs. Expand Their Mission

Paco Underhill, the famed "shopping scientist" who advises the retail industry on shoppers behaviors stated in 2000 that women seek online objectives single-mindedly, while men stay oneline and surf.  But Resource Interactive’s research contradicted this theory. To sum up one of the research’s findings, "Men stick to their mission, women expand their mission," says Edd Johns, Resource Interactive’s executive director of strategy.

"If men are out to research the best digital camera or the best shirt, they’re not doing much else," he says.

"Women, however, might come in and say, ‘I’m interested in a digital camera,’ and the next thing you know, they’re looking at clothes for their kids, they’re thinking about what they’re doing that weekend, and if they need to pick something up for their husbands."

But Johns stresses a critical point: Although women expand their mission, they don’t abandon it. "Their list of ‘things to do’ grows. So what you need to know as a retailer is that they’re going to be diverting from their primary mission, but they’re adding to it, not abandoning it."

There is a really fine distinction here. 

I’ve often bucked the trend and said women are task oriented online and do not want to browse and explore every nook and cranny of your website.  I believe that’s still true.  But I think what you’re seeing is that women are multi-tasking more than men.   They still have very specific targeted tasks, but they may have several of them.   

Another key finding:

The Product Focus vs. the Lifestyle Focus
To reach both men and women, it’s "really critical" for an online store to balance a product focus with a lifestyle focus, Johns says. In fact, it’s more critical "than anything we observed."

A lifestyle focus generally uses soft visual cues, and it always puts products in context — using a photo that groups several products in a life-like setting — instead of a single product. A lifestyle focus often uses people in the photo. Traditionally, this approach is thought to be more attractive to women, whereas "men tend to go ‘I don’t know what’s going on in this picture,’" Johns says.

"You flip that around, and you show a refrigerator on a white background, or you show a single shirt, and women instantly go, ‘What’s that for? What’s the context?’"

However, the research revealed a surprising contradiction to these stereotypes.

Prior to starting its research, Resource Interactive hypothesized that there would be polarization between the genders: that women would be exclusively attracted by a lifestyle focus, where men would gravitate only toward a "nuts and bolts" product focus.

In reality, the research shows the genders have "significant overlap," Johns says. "What we found is that women are enticed by lifestyle, then product; men are enticed by product, then lifestyle."

"So there is a different entering point, but you can’t deviate from [offering] both." It’s necessary to balance these approaches. "You can go too far, and miss the product for men, and for women, if you go too far with lifestyle, they might leave because you’re not getting them to the product fast enough."

Some of this, I believe, is due to personality type.  More humanistic personas will naturally gravitate to the lifestyle pictures.  They base buying decisions based on feelings and relationships.  More methodical personas are more single minded and product focused.   They will be more interested in “nuts and bolts” product features.

  They base buying decisions based more on logical proven facts.  Both men and women have these personality types.   But since women are perhaps more relationship focused, I can see how they might come in on those types of images.

Another interesting point that came out in the discussion of the article was about web analytics.   I’ve been e-chatting with Debora Geary at Fireweed Analytics and she’s seen some evidence that women have less linear pathways than men. 

Certainly in our experience at Future Now, we’ve found this to be true for many of our personas.   It’s one of the big mistakes many websites make – they only plan linear paths.  We actually created our own software in order to create non-linear pathways.  The problem is – while we can make some very good hypotheses about what questions our personas are asking and what information they’re looking for, we don’t necessarily know in what order they’ll ask those questions.  We plan for that in our scenario mapping and have had huge success with it.

So – while I’ve had some misgivings about some other research on how men and women shop online – this article has some really helpful information in it – so give it a read.

This entry was posted in How women use the web and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How Women Shop Online Part 2

  1. I think you are right.
    “Some of this, I believe, is due to personality type. More humanistic personas will naturally gravitate to the lifestyle pictures. They base buying decisions based on feelings and relationships. ”
    Thinking vs. Feeling is the only MBTI dimension where gender seems to make a difference. While the split across the entire population is approximately 50/50, almost 60% of the people who have a preference for feeling are female.

  2. Rap Fest 2006 Week – August 9 – Augsut 13.

    Hip Hop event in the NYC area. (PRWEB Aug 1, 2006)

  3. MacroScript WebRecorder 1.74 Simplifies Automation of Web Sites and Web Applications

    simplifies the creation of scripts for automating web sites and web applications and allows easy integration

  4. 2006 DC PHP Conference – Call for Papers

    opportunity to showcase your ideas in the PHP community. Your participation will make this conference a success. The conference selection committee requests

  5. CELEB: Actress Regrets Discussing Fake Boyfriend’s Fake Baby

    talking about the imaginary baby.
    At premiere of her new film, Revolver , Cruz claimed she was one of

  6. Prosperity Automated System Newcomer Starts Doing Things the Easy Way

    others to do the same. He is one of the newest members of Prosperity Automated Systems, which has become an

  7. quations get says:

    How a leopard changes his spots

    quations get to grips with patterns in a growing cat’s coat.

  8. Weight gain in teens may worsen adult heart health

    children from accumulating too much body fat between adolescence and young adulthood could help

  9. Dow Ends Down 46, Nasdaq Ends Down 12

    Down 46 at 11,174, Nasdaq Closes Down 12 at 2,061 As Investors Welcome Fed Decision

  10. Corruption Rivals Violence as Threat to Iraq

    enate Hearing Reviews $4 Billion in Lost Funds

  11. AXA Art Research Grant Wins Top Cultural Commitment Award Recognized by Federation of German Industry for its Commitment to Culture

    and Collectibles insurer recognized for its commitment to art. The Cultural Circle of German Business and Industry within

  12. Susy says:

    Just found you through the road nobhgiers map. Not too familiar with bloggin so I’m not sure if this was where to send you a mesage but we are headed down your way. We have reservations in Crooked River Campground the 18 and 19th and then Manatee Springs on the 20th. Have you guys already been that way or are you headed that way? We were then going to try to find something in Tarpon Springs and then on to Ft De Soto area. How is that working out for you? We are traveling in a 24 ft RV with four kids (9,8,4 and 3)? I’ll have to give your blog a bit more of a read to see where all you’ve been. Would be nice to meet you if our paths cross somewhere down there.Jess Draus

  13. Sanjay says:

    You are probably cocrret in your statement. I think the term is more commonly used today to reflect an individuals interest in choosing the greener or more eco friendly option when purchasing, recycling or conserving energy in some way. I still drive, I still use electricity, I still make use of much of today’s energy resources however I am conscious to avoid unnecessary waste.I choose to recycle believing that it does some good:I turn food scraps into compostI collect a bucket of shower water to keep a plant, bush or tree alive,I walk rather than drive when it is possible and convenient to do soI also purchase non toxic products so that I avoid causing unnecessary damage to the environment Using concentrated detergents cleaners etcI recycle one plastic laundry liquid bottle instead of 4 6 plastic bottles etc. My working life revolves around writing about safe versus unsafe products for use in the home and on our bodies and I help others purchase safe and affordable options I guess that is the best I can but any effort in a greener direction is better than working in the opposite direction. Just a bit of a run through on how although I wish it were possible to live truly green I am afraid this is how I can work as practical, sensible and conservative when it comes to energy, waste etc. The more greener decisions we all make the less black that will be out there!

  14. Xrisa says:

    green living is one of the sreveal exercises in futility. You can recycle, plant trees, pick up trash all you want but you will NEVER EVER save the planet since it is already doomed. You can verify this by doing your research. For every piece of trash you and your entire community recycles there is hundreds of big companies pouring pollution out like there is no tomorrow. The facts prove this. You are wasting your time. green living is a psychological approach to alter the empty spaces in peoples’ brains to give them a (false) sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose. Go out today, pour some motor oil in someone’s yard, throw your trash in the streets, blow smoke in the air doesn’t matter

Comments are closed.