Shopping Differences Between Genders

The difference in shopping habits between men and women, what to take into consideration when choosing a shopping partner.

It seems that men and women have different styles of doing everything. When it comes to shopping, there’s a saying: Women shop, men buy.

Women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. Because women tend to communicate more easily than men, and are more open to communication, it’s easier for a woman to spend some time chatting with a salesperson regarding fashions, trends and what’s on sale, thus taking more time and browsing more items.

Men tend to think of shopping as getting something done. They know what they need and they want to get in, get the item, and get out. After all, there are other jobs to do. No sense in frittering away time looking at unnecessary items. And there certainly isn’t time for idle chit chat with a stranger when the family is expecting that spice rack to be finished tonight, with the tool that he went to purchase specifically for that job.

According to a paper published in Knowledge@ Wharton, women are more likely to experience problems while shopping than men -- 53% vs. 48%. For women, "lack of help when needed" is the top problem (29%). Men, however, ranked "difficulty in finding parking close to the store's entrance" as the number one problem (also 29%). Women value sales associates who make them feel important, whereas men value checking out quickly.

Why are there such differences in the shopping habits of the sexes? In The X and Y of Buy, Elizabeth Pace says that while women love the search, men love the kill. Pace refers to early man to show that these instincts are inherent and developed over time. In those nomadic times of following food sources, men hunted in groups, while women stayed home to protect the camps and children from predators. Women had to have stamina to endure long days and nights of preparing food and nursing babies, not to mention the ability to weigh pros and cons in order to settle disputes within the clan. Men were relied upon for quick, explosive energy and strength to provide food for the clan. The hunter-male concentrated on the day’s kill, while the gatherer-female had to plan for the longer term. It seems to relate to our roots that today women tend to shop around, “gathering” up the best from various sources and enjoying the experience, while men tend to buy, going straight in for the “kill.”

In essence, we can say that most women enjoy browsing for unique or thrifty finds and chatting with salespeople; while most men would rather go to a certain store for a certain item and get the job done quickly.  Of course, it's ridiculous to say that men and women simply cannot enjoy shopping together. Yet it might make for a more enjoyable experience for all if we first think about what we are buying and where we are going. We can use the knowledge of shopping differences between the sexes to better understand each other and to make each shopping day a happier experience.


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