Online Buying Behavior: The Difference between Men and Women

Online Buying Behavior: The Difference between Men and Women

Are Men and Women equals when it comes to shopping?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is – definitely not. While much has changed in recent years, there are still some behavioral aspects that set these two genders apart. What this article is primarily tackles though is the difference between online buying behavior between men and women.

Despite growing gender equality in the workplace, stereotypes are still very prevalent in the household. A lot of families still see the male as the provider, while women (although they may also work) are still tasked with shopping for the family. As such, it really is no surprise that women dominate online retail.

The Stats: Where Women Win


Women spend approximately 20% more time browsing through shopping sites online than men. While some key categories like sports, electronics, and outdoor goods are still predominantly controlled by men, women lead almost every other retail category.

What’s more, women don’t just spend more time shopping online. They also spend significantly more money in most categories for online purchases.

As an eCommerce retailer, it’s important to not only know who your audience will most likely be, but also the factors that will affect their purchase decisions. If you’re targeting women for example, you should know that women take coupons much more seriously than men. In fact, 68% of women shoppers (vs. 60% of male shoppers) are likely to use coupons when they want to save money while shopping online. They are also more likely to shop when there are sales (49% vs. 36%), and sign up for incentive programs (33% vs. 23%).

The Stats: How Men Measure Up

However, one of the advantages men hold over women when it comes to online shopping is their dominance of the m-commerce market. Although there are several factors that affect this, such as the fact that men are more likely to own a smartphone than women, the point is that eCommerce merchants who focus their efforts on the mobile market should definitely cater their services to better deal with the needs of the male audience.

The two genders also approach online shopping differently. Males tend to stick to whatever mission they assign themselves when they shop online, whereas women tend to wander among different product categories. Before deciding on a purchase, men tend to search for information on the particular product’s page, while women tend to just scan the information before moving on to the next potential product. This often leads to more impulse purchases from women than from men.

Additionally, women also depend on social media more than men when making a purchase decision. Women are also much more likely to recommend a product to friends and family on a social networking site (35% vs. 28%).

Lastly, despite the apparent differences in shopping behavior though, Shoppercentric, a UK based research firm, claims that the younger shoppers, whether male or female, display mostly identical shopping patterns.

So what do all these facts and figures mean for an eCommerce merchant?


First off, if you are providing a product or service primarily for men, it’s better if it’s within the male-dominated categories. When presenting your product, make sure to give accurate and detailed descriptions of your product. Show why you are superior to your competition and provide customer reviews and testimonials proving it.

On the other hand, if you’re product or service is for the female demographic, it might be better to make your site more interactive. Give the users a chance to communicate with one another via chat, forums, or reviews. Pay particular attention to ease of navigation, filtering, and sorting. You might even want to pay more attention to creating promotions and sales in order to give female purchasers more incentive to choose your product over your competitors.

If you are catering to younger shoppers, you might want to give them detailed product information, customer reviews, and opportunities for social interaction.

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Selling & Upselling with Psychology & Human Behavior

Selling & Upselling with Psychology & Human Behavior is one of my favorite websites ever. The entire site is filled with some of the most interesting, captivating, thought provoking and mind blowing presentations from the world’s top geniuses and experts. I highly recommend clicking around and learning something…

I recently watched this particular video called, “Are we in control of our own Decisions?” by Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and wrote the book “Predictably Irrational” (Official Site). His TED Talk is brilliant and has a few ideas that we can use in our online marketing and on our eCommerce websites.

Watch the Video here:

Default Options

One of my favorite takeaways from this video was the idea that a majority of people will simply agree with or comply with the default option. This was evident in the studies that showed the countries with high and low rates of citizens willing to donate their organs. If the question was, “check here to opt in” the country had a low acceptance rate, and when the question was “check here to opt out” the acceptance rate was extremely high.


How can you use this in your marketing?

You can use it in an upsell process. You have to be VERY careful, and transparent when you’re doing it so customers don’t become alienated by your website or flood your customer service number with complaints. Don’t just add extra cost to the checkout, make sure it’s apparent to the customer that it’s happen. There are many marketers and checkout processes that do (usually in the domain registration space (GoDaddy is king), web hosting and info marketing).

Think about this. A product is in your inventory and listed on your site for $10. After the customer gets the product in their cart, and gets to the checkout there is an automatic upsell before the order confirmation. This upsell charges $X that might change the shipping or improve the actual the item in some way by adding a feature, it could be a warranty, insurance, or even an extra product (for example, if you sell glasses, upsell a cleaning and repair kit). If the upsell’s price is marginal (based on the price of the original item, probably adding around 10% – 20% to the order), and the upsell is included by default, you might expect a low rate of opt out based on the data shown by Ariely in the video.


The upsell should be very obvious though so the customer can easily choose to opt out. Just imagine all of your order values increasing by adding in a few upsell options in your checkout and making them the default choice.

Price Anchoring (forcing a Good Deal)

The other takeaway that I thought was excellent and applicable was the price anchoring technique that The Economist magazine uses to drastically increase the number of subscribers that would take a higher priced item. They offer a web only, print only and a web + print option. The Web Only option is $59, the print only is $125, and the web + print is $125. Look at the results that Dan Ariely got from polling students at MIT, with the print only and without the print only options.

The results when the print only deal was an option:


and the results without the print only option:


This is incredible! When people think they are getting a good deal, they are likely to take the good deal but when there are two distinct and different options, price usually wins. Try positioning your products, shipping options or upsells in a way that your customers are getting something for nothing or getting a great deal… A/B test and see what happens. Brainstorm how you can do it like The Economist Magazine did it.

Think about – they offer free “super saver” shipping on any orders over $25. I know that I’ve added an extra product or two into my cart just to get over the minimum price, usually sending it to over $30. I doubt I’m the only one… have you ever done the same thing? This increases the average order value for Amazon which improves their marketing ROI and average $/Visitor among other important stats.

Thanks for reading! Have any feedback or some other ideas from the video? Leave some comments below!

If you liked this article, check out our latest posts:

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