Men shop too: The four key factors for marketing to men

By Dr. Bob Deutsch

Men are, well, men. They live in the now. They are concrete thinkers that like to consummate, finish. A male axiom is "complete what you set out to do." Men are interested in power and in looking good, even more than being good. In short, that's the nature of beauty for the beast.

You cannot market to men the same way you market to women. It's not a simple transformation of changing colors, fonts or packaging. Men and women are different biologically, psychologically and socially.

Of course, when it comes to attractiveness, both sexes want to garner attention, but each for different reasons. For men, looking good is looking strong, confident, authoritative, adventurous — a standout. Men concentrate on looks to the extent that it signals something about what they do, have done or can do. Regardless of how much a woman wants to attract in the contest of beauty and brains, their focus is on hope and details, and they concentrate on how appearance reflects their inner be-ing.

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Consider four fundamental gender differences and their impact on marketing:

TIME

Men tend to hone in, more quickly than women, on what they're looking for. Men are not browsers. A male motto is "Get what I want and move on." Men shop for what they need now. Women can shop for something and put it away for later.

An interesting reflection of how men and women relate differently to time is found in how differently they follow instructions for antibiotics prescribed by their doctors: Very often, men will stop taking antibiotics as soon as they feel better, even though the regime's effectiveness calls for a full 14-day intake. Women, much more frequently than men, complete the recommended regime.

Women want to get the underlying dynamics of things while men attend to the mundane mechanics of life.

CAUSALITY

Men are concrete and tend to tightly focus their awareness; their notion of cause and effect is linear and men are visually oriented because of this concrete literality. What you see is what is, literally. Seeking clarity, men create absolute distinctions: black-white, yes-no.

Women often think, "It depends." You almost never hear a man voice this sentiment. These different ways of defining "what leads to what" also impacts "what goes with what." Men dislike ensembles. Men tend to buy individual items. In contrast, many women like to think about how they can put together "outfits" and are creative in selecting, say, a variation on a scarf or a belt that will change the nature of one basic dressing.

SPACE

Men structure and relate to space as compartmented and sequential. To men, space is not relational, as it is for women. For example, when a woman gives directions, she will say, "Go three blocks south (as she points or orients in the direction indicated), then bear right, and when you see the clock tower, watch for your street on the right." Men say, "Go three blocks to Pullman Street and turn left on to Main, the turn left to Brighton Street."

These kinds of underlying, fundamental gender differences can have critical implications not only for what makes an item compelling, but also for store design and product layout. For example, many women like the challenge, the somewhat disorganized variety and the catch-as-catch-can nature of places such as TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Men, even men who shop in such places because of price, are not there out of joy or desire.

OTHER PEOPLE

For the male it's every man for himself. Men prize individuality and self-reliance. They conceive other people as "my competition." Daily life for them is a contest with winners and losers. This is in contrast to women, who often view other people as a source of strength. Note, too, that men never shop together. Women often shop with a friend and make a day of it. A man focuses on himself - the "me" while a woman is focused on the "we."

Men are interested in power. Women are more interested in security. Men relate to things themselves. Women relate to the relationship between things.

In today's world, men might, for example, be paying more attention to grooming aids than they did years ago. But men are still grooming to go up the hierarchy, to be Number One, and be recognized as Number One.

Modern man is still primal man, regardless of how much hair he has to groom.

Dr. Bob Deutsch, a cognitive anthropologist, is president and founder of Brain Sells, a strategic branding consultancy in Boston, MA.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • TEST 10:43 am Scofield
    123742863
    Hi Bettina, Can you share a link to your research data? I'd love to what your research shows. Thanks.

    Dan
  • milena stanojevic
    56920928
    So if I were advertising men's underwear in a store window with pictures of men, would men prefer to see all kinds of men (skinny, chubby, black, white, asian, etc) or the ones they aspire to be? Built, tan, strong, etc...?
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