Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Men like to buy

Men are hunters and women are foragers and this is the basis for our shopping habits, the researchers tell us. I am buying and selling more and more male things as I am attracted to some of the things that males love.
But I am interested in men's behaviours when and how they shop online - as the interface is different to shopping in the real world. Below is a recent graph from which is interesting reading.

I love the comment that women make philosophical judgments in their purchasing while men are more tactical and strategic. The melodica I have listed on ebay above is an example. A man would probably only consider buying it if he was looking to learn the instrument or add it to his existing collection. In other words it is mission driven in that he won't look at it twice unless it is in his head.

On the other hand, as a buyer of vintage goods to sell to both sexes I should also be mission driven but, I bought it because I loved the retro styling and the sound it made.  In my poetic reading of the object, its actual function as a working musical instrument or that very few people would be interested in buying it were almost irrelevant. I currently have my eye on a beautiful small 1960s accordion, why? because it is a great looking object, and has a beautiful mother of pearl veneer of course! I am not a musical person at all.

Not all my decisions are aesthetically or poetically driven - I do also like function and form. The mid century ice cube tray for example is a true aesthetic delight, has bags of retro appeal but it is also very functional! It allows you to have retro coolness in your glass, so to speak.

The chart above also suggests that, for women, shopping is on our minds a lot. We grab at opportunities to do it. Shopping and talking about shopping is a social event - an opportunity to bond with other women in a like minded gathering activity. An activity that our brains are biologically wired for. Etsy works for women particularly I think because of the social networking strategies it offers. 

The top graph which shows online spending by age does indicate a parallel between the genders - both  genders in fact are doing plenty of shopping. It seems to me that the common stereotype that men don't like shopping may be refined into the notion that men don't like shopping the female way. The outcomes are the same, but the ways to get there are different. Online shopping gives them a means to do this efficiently. That is, men like to buy and women like to shop.


  1. Really interesting. I have to say I am always a little uncomfortable with generalist distinctions between the sexes (sometimes it's used as an excuse for sexism). I think my husband and I shop in the same way when it comes to things we like ie. things we want not need (he is a graphic designer and artist so probably not typical though ) ie. we are both quite philosophical. I think we differ when it comes to shopping for necessities eg. food.

  2. Interesting statistics! My shop is geared mainly toward us females though ;-) BUT I do have a couple make buyers you like to surprise their other half with a pretty gift!
    In my household I do most of the shopping :)

  3. Hmm, never thought about it that way. Very interesting to consider! I know it fits how my husband shops! He wants to be in and out, so he does all his research beforehand.

  4. Very interesting reading. Thanks for sharing!
    Rachel (from ASG Team)