In RCE podcast #8, Kim Nasief, CEO of Measure CP, and I were asked if there is a way to attract male shoppers to stores. The generally held and widely accepted belief is that women do most of the shopping in households. Is this perception accurate? If so, what implications does this have for your store?
Is this perception accurate?
While I believe that it is accurate, I believe that men do more shopping than most retailers realize - just not for the same things or in the same way women do.
I know that I'm stepping into the abyss with these generalizations, but here goes. Men shop for toys and gadgets. If he's career-conscious and understands the importance of image in creating career opportunities, he may also shop for his own business attire in order to create the look he needs to meet his career goals. Other than that, men simply aren't interested.
Toys and gadgets
Men love to play. That's why they get lost for a full day at Cabela's, Bass Pro or Dick's. Of course, what constitutes play varies widely. My brother-in-law's passion is reading. When he visits Barnes & Noble, time stops. Two of my nephews are into cooking and brewing their own beer. They enjoy experimenting with both and will spend considerable time shopping for unusual ingredients as well as kitchen gadgets.
Other guys enjoy seeing the latest, greatest tools at work and can spend hours exploring the tool isles at hardware stores. If they're like me, the appeal wears off quickly when I have to actually use the tool.
While some men will spend time creating a look, most, upon having found something they like will return to the same store when that item of clothing needs to be replaced. Fortunately men's clothing doesn't change all that frequently allowing them to avoid lengthy visits to the clothing department.
Let's contrast that with women shoppers. Women shoppers fall into two categories - those that enjoy shopping and those that don't. Another generalization that will probably bite me.
Women who enjoy shopping typically get their enjoyment from playing with different looks. For these women shopping for clothing is play time, whether they're shopping for themselves, their children or their husbands. It's no different than men shopping for toys and gadgets. It's fun!
Women who don't enjoy shopping are likely to shop like men. They're only going to visit your store when they need something. They'll try to spend as little time as possible finding what they need, buy it, then get out of Dodge.
What does this mean for your store? First, it means that you have to emphasize the fun in purchasing whatever you're selling. As we saw in the examples above, both men and women are likely to spend significant amounts of time in your store if it's fun for them.
By the way, these are also the people who are likely to pay full price for what you offer. Why? Because kids don't care about price, they only want what they want and you just fed the kid in them.
Second, make finding things easy. For those non-shoppers who want a quick in and out, make it easy for them to find what they're seeking. These are the folks that welcome the question "What can I help you find?" This is not fun for them and they want to get back to something that is fun so help them do so. They, too, will pay a premium if you help them accomplish an unpleasant task quickly.
Finally, recognize that on any given day each of us can fall into either category depending on what we're buying and how pressed for time we are. Their demeanor will give you significant clues into which frame of mind they possess. Don't underestimate your natural ability to read whether a visitor in your store is in a playful mood or when they're on a mission.
Will these insights attract more male customers to your store? Maybe not, but by tailoring your approach to your customers' mood you'll create a favorable memory that increases the likelihood they'll return whether they're male or female.
On the surface this may not seem to have much relevance for the business-to-business (B2B)community, but that assumption would be wrong. You can use these same observations about who is having fun and whose focus is on getting the job done to help you frame your sales pitch to demonstrate enhanced value in working with you. Who among us doesn't want to work with someone who understands us and helps us achieve that goal whether that goal is having fun or getting through an unpleasant task quickly?
Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, author and business consultant. His latest book, "Pricing for Profit," is dedicated to helping organizations break the bonds of industry pricing.