To be really successful at online retail, you must really know your customer. You must be able to anticipate what the customer might want, what they might like, what might bring them back. The study of customer shopping patterns and demographics is not a new thing in the field of sales. We study shopping patterns to zero in on the current trends in the market. We push certain products, hold others back, based on the information that we collect. We even use this information to change the way we display our products. Customer shopping patterns lead to a new world of insights that take your online sales game to the next level.

In this article, we are going to focus on the differences between the male and female shopping patterns of 2016. Why is this important? A study of the differences in shopping habits in men and women tell you a lot of things – which part of the shopping experience are men and women comfortable with, which parts do they not like, are there ways to attract more customers by tweaking a service to suit either men or women, etc. It is a commonly established observation that men and women tend to shop differently. They also respond differently to similar products, technology, services, etc. Knowing a little bit about their behavioural patterns, it becomes easier to devise a system that they would feel comfortable interacting with. As online sellers, we do have our own cognitive biases while taking decisions. By looking at others’ behaviour, we can try to make our services more inclusive and cater our ecommerce store towards both. Let’s look at some similarities and differences that men and women display in their shopping habits.

Male and Female Shopping Patterns

Female Shopping Behaviour

There exist many stereotypes about female shopping behaviour – many do display a kind of sexism that is prevalent in many professional fields today. Women are generally characterised as frivolous, impulse buyers, who do not conduct adequate research before buying a product. In fact, when it comes to shopping, it is the men who seem most clueless. A 2007 survey done by the AMP Agency highlights the fact that women tend to be the more astute sex when it comes to shopping. This survey identifies four broad mindsets that women shoppers display –

  1. Content Responsibles – They are practical, loyal and efficient
  2. Natural Hybrids – Operating in a balanced state between practicality and indulgence.
  3. Social Catalysts – The influencers within a group.
  4. Cultural Artists – Trendsetters, who actively seek new products and directly influence market trends.

Women tend to be more participative when it comes to shopping. They share trends, opportunities, sale information, etc. amongst their peers, initiate conversations and are more likely to be influenced by product reviews. They also tend to shop for the future, and not just on a need-to-buy basis. They are also more likely to shop for others apart from themselves. For women, shopping seems to have a lot to do with social interaction. T

hey also evaluate the overall shopping experience shopping experiences more than men, which means that they are generally more aware of user interaction and design, quality of images, the ‘look-and-feel’ of the website, etc. This 2012-13 survey about site-specific social media use also tells us something similar. Women tend to use image based social media more than men – 16% against 10% on Instagram, 72% against 62% on Facebook and 25% vs 5% on Pinterest. The presentation of your product becomes extremely important when you are catering for female customers.

Male Shopping Behaviour

Men on the other hand, seem quite clueless about shopping. I can personally attest to this stereotype. The prospect of a trip to the mall is for me like a plunge inside a haystack, looking for a needle. Men tend to get in and get out when it comes to shopping. They generally shop alone, regardless of whether it is sale season or not. We mostly shop for our personal needs, and not for others.

According to Delia Passi, CEO of the research and consumer advocacy group WomenCertified, men rely on the immediacy of the purchase – the worst outcome of a shopping trip for men is to return empty handed. In order to avoid such a thing from happening, men are more likely to enter the shopping space (online or offline) with a preconceived notion of what they would like to buy. The tend to spend more time on research on other forums rather than through the shopping space itself. Within the shopping space, they look for specific product descriptions and the ability to compare features with other similar products.


There seem to be a lot of differences in the ways in which men and women approach shopping. What should the online seller do? Instead of trying to create a universal model of a shopping space, it is more beneficial that the online seller thinks about more specific questions. For example, how to keep men more engaged within the shopping space, is an important question that needs to be addressed immediately. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading ecommerce experts, and we are always happy to help!

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