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.


Anonymous said...

I'll bite on this one, whenever my daughters are in Auckland they love hitting the shops, fair enough, they are teenagers & enjoy it, I get left in a coffee shop reading a magazine, what would I like.
Something like Dick Smith's for tools in a mall would be a good start, moving on to coffee shops for blokes, probably the big market is the coffee shop, some guys magazines, decent posters of AB's, Josh Coppins, V8 Supercars & some TV showing motorsport / Rugby.
Im with you, I think malls are big enough that the niche market of blokes hanging around for partners/kids has real potential, in terms of targeted shops & also service facilities.

Paul Montreal said...

In Brazil, in particular in Sao Paulo,they certainly have the right attitude! I was impressed and amazed at how the boutique owners - especially those along Oscar Freire St., where you surely have been - emphasize the experience in shopping: beautiful architecture (often at the expense of salable square footage, something that we'd never see here in North America), fantastic design, friendly staff and - the grabber! - a sitting area , often in an open court or garden at the back of the store, where great music is heard, highend magazines and newspapers are waiting to be read and where great expresso - and even sometimes a glass of wine or bubbly - is served. Wow!
An experience I'd relive anytime, even though I am normally what could be called a "target shopper" - I know what I want, I go in and get it then leave.

Kevin Roberts said...

You are both right, a relaxing sitting area is smart. Remember when reading a book in a bookshop got you a sour look? Well Borders changed all that. Who could imagine not being able to sit and have a cup of coffee while you look through a book or magazine. Did profits go down? not a bit of it. People loved being loved.