A Battle of the Sexes Plays Out in Shopping Aisles

A Battle of the Sexes Plays Out in Shopping Aisles

There’s something interesting happening with men and women and shopping.

Women’s incomes are rising around the world, making them a force to be reckoned with. And they’re using their newfound clout to influence purchasing decisions in categories once dominated by men.

So is the gender influence scale tipping in women’s favor? Not exactly.

Men’s shopping behavior is changing as well. As women exert more influence on traditionally male shopping categories—such as autos and financial services—men are getting more involved in household purchases.

This increasingly complex mix of male and female decision-makers across categories is challenging marketers to shake off the old paradigms and come up with new ways to attract shoppers.

China’s Women on the Rise

In China, women’s shopping behavior has evolved with their changing role in society. Dramatic growth in women’s earning and spending power is transforming the face of the Chinese consumer.

Since 1980, women’s average contribution to household income has jumped from 20 percent to 50 percent. And Chinese mothers see a bright future for their daughters, as 86 percent believe their daughters will have new opportunities and financial stability, according to Nielsen research.

Chinese women traditionally have been involved in grocery shopping, but now their influence is expanding into other verticals, like financial services.

Women’s spending outside of the traditional areas has created a new class of discerning shoppers in categories like insurance and electronics—since men have traditionally spent more on these purchases.

Russia’s Male Shoppers

In Russia, more than half of men are making shopping decisions for food, household and personal care products—and 43 percent are making shopping purchases, according to Nielsen Global Survey data.

Russian men are active, independent shoppers. Seventy-one percent of men in the study said they pre-plan before hitting the stores—but they’re less price-conscious than their female counterparts.

This is particularly true of products that are designed specifically for them: 47 percent of men (vs. 40% of women) said they were more willing than women to pay a higher price. And men are more brand-conscious than women (51% vs. 43%). They’re also earlier adopters of new products (40% vs. 34%).

Latinas: A U.S. Growth Market

In the U.S., a transformation can be seen among Hispanic consumers, as Latinas exert a growing influence.

Hispanic women are expected to become 30 percent of the total female population by 2060, while the non-Hispanic white female population is expected to drop to 43 percent, according to U.S. Census projections.

And the growing population of Latinas has shopping clout. Eighty-six percent of Latinas say they’re the primary decision makers in their households, making them pivotal to the Hispanic market’s $1.2 trillion in annual buying power.

They are now the primary or joint decision-makers in every major category purchase, including groceries, finances, electronics and family care. And in the past year, they were more likely than other American women to have bought a first home, a car or made a major home improvement.

Shopping Styles, By Gender

Men tend to shop functionally and women are more price-conscious, according to Nielsen’s Category Shopping Fundamentals study, which assessed styles among U.S. consumers.

Store promotions and coupons are effective with female shoppers. But to attract male shoppers, marketers would do well to offer reminders to replenish supplies, and they should formulate specific messages with male shoppers in mind.

The gender divide also plays out in-store, where men tend to be more engaged with shopper marketing intended to inform or attract purchases.