Understanding the remarkable brain of female shoppers

May 31, 2018

I’ve updated this article which was originally posted in June 2016.

Female shoppers have a mind of their own

There’s been a lot in the news lately about the blurring lines between genders. Whether it’s a discussion on gender inequality; gender-identity restrooms or the new fashion trend called “gender blending,” the topic keeps bubbling up. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the influence the female gender has on the buying process in brick and mortar stores. In fact, if men show a higher interest in shopping, it’s considered, “imitating women.” Female shoppers still account for 85% of all consumer purchases. I believe understanding how they think about shopping is the beginning of making that sale.

 Take My Shopping Quiz  – True or False

  1. When I make a purchase, I automatically justify it in my mind.
  2. While shopping, I evaluate the salesperson as much as the merchandise.
  3. I like to have some choices when shopping, but too many options and I shut down.
  4. I hesitate to ask a lot of questions because I don’t want to look dumb.
  5. When I browse, I often think of others when I see things they might like.
  6. I feel smart when I’m reminded how much money I’ve saved on my purchase.
  7. When in a shop, I notice design details.
  8. It matters to me how the salesperson addresses me.
  9. If shop signage doesn’t easily direct me, I lose interest.
  10. If I don’t receive the attention I feel I deserve, I usually will not return to that shop.

If you answered True to 8 or more of these statements, you shop like a woman. It’s interesting how few of these statements even occur to men. Let’s face it, when it comes to shopping, gender makes a difference.

Chart for female shoppersThe difference between selling to men and women

Men and women view the entire shopping experience in a completely different way. Women have much higher expectations when buying at a brick and mortar store. From beginning to end, your sales reps need to affirm a woman’s visit to your shop and validate her purchases. In other words, forget about the transaction, it’s all about the interaction. For men, physical shopping is the means to an end. They are on a mission to acquire what they need. The only time they care about such things as signage, design and the personality of the salesperson is if it takes them to the desired location quicker.

Women are looking for an emotional connection

Female shoppers, no matter what age, enjoy feeling an emotional connection between themselves and your shop. Your enthusiasm when she walks in, especially if you know her name, will go a long way. To women, customer service represents who you are. Give poor customer service and a woman is likely to never return. She feels you’ve disrespected her as well as wasted her time. Women need to feel they can trust you.

Today’s shoppers, particularly female shoppers, want to patronize a shop that’s involved in their community. Millennials (those age 37 and younger) especially focus on businesses that are “socially conscious.” Consignment, thrift and resale needs to educate today’s consumers about their incredible eco-friendliness.

The changing face of shopping

eCommerce is clearly changing the way men and women shop. Through mobile devices, male shoppers now show a greater interest in not only shopping, but browsing as well.  Like women, social media and online marketing influence men’s choices about fashion trends. Now, more than ever, their interest in wearing the latest clothing is revealed in their online searches. Men’s clothing online sales may even surpass other online categories, including computers.

Understanding the mind of your shopper

Women, however, are still the primary shopping demographic. I imagine the majority of your shoppers whether for furniture or apparel are female too. Still, in 2018,  the #1 influencer for a woman’s purchase is price, making resale a top pick. Here are some great resources for finding out a little bit more about female shoppers.

“Why She Buys”     By Bridget Brennan

“Decoding The New Consumer Mind”    By Kit Yarrow

“buy – ology   Truth and Lies About Why We Buy”   by Martin Lindstrom

For a few more ideas on how to appeal to your shoppers, read How to make shoppers happy with simple resale-tainment.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.