Mission to Buy

January 5th, 2020

An insight into male shoppers.

Most people know Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “Veni, vidi, vici,” Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

But Jules had another, not-so-well-known axiom when it came to shopping: “Ego vado, ego tabernam, ego adepto ex ibi est infernum!” Translated to English, the Roman dictator was saying, “I go, I shop, I get the hell out of there!”1

That was back in the mid ‘40s. (BC, that is.) But, for men, shopping hasn’t changed much – at least according to the recent brand study commissioned for this issue of Thinking. For the most part, it reinforced typecasting we’ve heard before: Women enjoy shopping and look for deals, while men … not so much.

Full disclosure: I’m a guy, and I fit the male shopping stereotype. I don’t enjoy it, so I whittle my TSS (time spent shopping) to a sliver. I know precisely what I want long before I step foot in a store, and a discount on another similar product doesn’t deter me. When I get to the store, I prefer Mario Kart over a shopping cart. To me, it’s a race.

Speed is key online, too. Men complete online purchases faster, 10 minutes compared to 14 minutes for women.2 Male shoppers tend to stop shopping after they find the first workable product.3 Women, on the other hand, would rather continue shopping in the hope of finding the “perfect solution” as opposed to just the first product that works.4

When it comes to specific brands, my approach to shopping jives with our study, which showed the majority of men (64%) know what brand they are going to purchase before they arrive at a store or click to buy online, compared to women (47%).

Another long-standing belief: Women care more about price; they shop longer and “look around” to find a better deal. Men want to buy the thing and get out. Our study showed that 49% of men follow a brand on social media to learn about a special deal, whereas 63% of women wanted to know about the brand’s specials.

I asked a male friend of mine who spends a lot of time at the gym, and a lot of money on health supplements, “If you were buying a jug of protein powder on Amazon, and at the checkout, they offered you another brand that was 20% cheaper for the same amount of protein powder, would you switch brands?”

“I like a deal just as much as the next person but saving 20% isn’t going to make me choose another brand over the one I’ve been using,” he responded.

So, what will make you switch brands?

“If they showed me that the other protein powder has more vitamins and minerals, more protein and fewer calories per gram than the one I use now, well, then I would switch. Cost is an afterthought.”

Here’s your take-home box for male shoppers:

  • Discounting your product to entice a brand-switch might not alwaysbe the best approach. The majority of men have already made up their minds before reaching the point-of-purchase. (Nearly half of the women in our survey have, too, BTW.) Show men how your brand is better, not cheaper.
  • Men are loyal to the favored brands, so it’s worth the effort to convince them to switch. Our figures are from just one survey, and different industries have different purchase points, but loyalty is universal. Once you convince men your product is the best in that category, they become creatures of habit and stick with your brand.
  • One final thought why men switch brands: life change = brand change. Our survey showed that 48% of men “switched a few brands” after getting married, taking a new job, buying a new home, etc.


1 This is not based on historical record. But come on, Caesar was a guy, he probably hated shopping just like the rest of us dudes.

2 Men vs. Women Online Shopping Habits, Personali, 2018.

3 An Analysis of Online Shopping Habits of Men & Women, Ecommerce Platforms, 2017.

4 Differences Between How Men and Women Do Online Shopping, Medium, 2016.

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