Globally, in 2019, women contributed an estimated US$31.8 trillion to consumer spending with the highest amounts being in Asia. Despite the evident income gap, there is a significant and distinctive gap between the disposable income spent by men and women. This gap in average buying power between men and women is increasing as we speak and is estimated to have a 100% difference by the end of 2030.
89% of women worldwide are in charge of daily shopping needs, compared to only 41% of men. Thus making women a larger demographic to target when selling products.
However, women are known to earn less than men (according to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) research, women earn less than men in many countries and this gap varies in different countries, with Scandinavian countries such as Ireland having the lowest gap of only 0.9%) With women earning less than men, how do women contribute the highest towards consumer spending? Do this mean women are mindless shoppers or intelligent shoppers and are they or are they not easily manipulated by advertising?
Ways in which men and women's shopping habits differ
To start off, women and men do not shop in the same pattern. There is a difference in the way each gender spends.
We’ve all been embarrassed by our mothers exchanging 7 coupons for discounts in a grocery store, who knew half of the population would end up turning into them?
Historically, men have been the hunters, but in the present, women are bargain hunters. They tend to buy more items that are on sale and often try to shop with coupons and discounts. On the contrary, men spend more per item than women.
As discussed before, more women than men are engaged in the activity of household shopping. This means more time spent in the baby, beauty and basic food aisles. We’ve all seen our mothers hold up two different kinds of toothpaste and contemplate over a 0.5% price difference. Men, on the other hand, even when shopping for items in those specific product categories, tend to spend more than women. Convenience store expenses, however, is one category that women will never trump men over. When it comes to snacks, beers, bread and milk, men are the superior purchases due to product placement style. While women focus on price and contextual product displays (which will be discussed later on), men focus more on themed deals, which many brands are already attempting to advantage of by creating a “bundled” item look that is easier to be captured by men’s eyes.
Contextual Advertising, Behavioural Advertising and how it works
Contextual advertising in short is placing relevant ads on the websites related to the content on your site based on keyword targeting. One of the most popular examples of contextual advertising is Google AdSense. Bots automatically serve users ads relevant to the content of the website. For example, if you’re reading an article about the agricultural deficits in your country, you’re bound to get an advertisement for plant seeds. Your ad will most likely be based on the environment of the website you’re on.
On the other hand, behavioural advertising is the placement of ads based on your past activity. For example, if you were googling the review for the latest Brad Pitt movie, there’s a high possibility that as you browse for a cookie recipe afterwards, there’s going to be an ad placed in the corner to buy tickets for a movie from the nearest cinema (based on an unfortunately true experience) You’re activity has been monitored and you are being targeted behaviorally for that ad.
Why does this work?
Men are more resistant to special offers, discounts and sales and are interested in the result when shopping online. They are not easily captivated by the process and make the purchase as soon as the suitable item is found.
Why a good website user interface is required
We’ve all shopped online. Maybe it was to get 10% off a pair of pants from your favourite store, or maybe it was to get your groceries delivered to your doorstep during the pandemic, but either way, we’ve all gotten something online. The process is usually easy, and when it’s not, we don’t find ourselves giving more attention to trying to figure it out. If I were trying to buy a can of tuna and Website A didn’t work, I’d simply switch to Website B, where not only do I find the same tuna, but unbeknownst to me, I pay an extra amount for shipping. Website A and B both have their negativities. While Website B’s user interface is easy, I’m paying a higher amount for shipping. On the other hand, Website A could have free shipping for all I know, but there’s no way I could come to that conclusion because their website is cluttered, hard to navigate, and an overall nightmare. Then there’s Website C; the easy interface, easy secure payment portals, prominently placed discount posters for canned food and a considerably lower shipping cost in comparison to Website B.
Website A – Complex interface, free shipping
Website B – Easy interface, expensive shipping
Website C – Easy interface, low shipping cost
While at first glance, Website A seems more appealing, but once entered into, the frustration of finding the tuna alone will send you spiralling to Website C. Websites have an Average Time of Page of 52 seconds. If the can of tuna cannot be found after spending a minute on Website A, the user will easily switch to another website.
In general, more women opt for online shopping than men (72:68). Men and women have different shopping patterns, and they also have different things they look for when shopping online.
Men are more focused on the mission; the end goal of their purchase, which is why Website B would’ve been more appealing to them had they not been aware of the existence of Website C. Women, on the other hand, enjoy the whole shopping process. This means, if a website is not suitable to their needs, they are bound to switch to a more pleasant and attractive website, which is where Website C comes into play. If Website A were an easily accessible page with no confusion, both genders would’ve stopped their website crawling at A and not gone the further two steps of discovering Website B or C.
Men and women have drastically different shopping habits. Neither is less beneficial than the other, but women have been statistically proven to spend more and contribute a higher percentage than men in consumer spending in a given year.
Advertisers connect their consumers with their content by using their data, and when creating gender-based and gender-inclusive technologies, it’s important to identify that whilst gender stereotypes can be harmful and offensive, if acquired and used correctly, it can create an efficient marketing environment.