Friday, July 25, 2008

Shopping: it’s a guy thing

Women love to shop. You don’t have to be a genius to see it in their eyes when they walk into a store. You can certainly see it as they caress, tap, stroke, sniff, squeeze. From my personal observation, women can be just as happy in a store full of things they would never buy as one that has everything they want. It’s that experience thing. For women (and yes, it’s been backed up by a mass of research) shopping is an enjoyable sensory experience that can be as much about learning what’s new, imagining what’s possible and planning what’s next, as actually purchasing anything. With all that going on, no wonder a recent Australian report reckons that women in that country spend about a year of their lives shopping.

And then there’s men. They tend to know what they want, get in there, buy it and get the hell out . Ok there is a bit of browsing when it comes to electronics and maybe tools, but overall it tends to be grab-and-go. So if shoppers should be at the heart of creating great shopping experiences, why don’t stores spend more time on making the experience better for men? The high point is probably a bench down the back of women’s fashion stores so bored men can slump with their newspapers for half-an-hour while their partners have a great old time searching the racks.

What’s to be done? I believe the attraction action has to start before men even get to the door. Apparently parking close to the store was listed as the number one shopping problem for men, so here’s an idea. How about locating part of the store in the parking building or in the parking lot? We’re all familiar now with the value of pop-up stores. Why not use the idea to reach out to shoppers in our own precincts? What’s needed most of course is a change of attitude – ours, not theirs! A reinvention of the store as a place where men will enjoy spending time. I’m sure you will have seen that saddest of sights: men waiting in their car in the parking lot rustling a newspaper while women do the shopping. There’s the evidence right there. There is nothing in that store that can compete with a newspaper. Of course some of them might have avoided stores for so long that they don’t realize that the shopping experience is changing. So how about showing them. The Web is one way. Loyalty rewards another. Or you could just knock on the car window and invite them inside.