Professional Jeweler Archive: Is 'Male Shopper' an Oxymoron?

July 2000

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Is 'Male Shopper' an Oxymoron?

Women still make the majority of buying decisions


There’s a secret to effective marketing and Faith Popcorn spells it W-O-M-E-N. While she doesn’t exactly dismiss the importance of the other gender – you know, men – author/futurist Popcorn pointedly notes the vast majority of purchasing decisions are made or critically influenced by women.

So one might wonder why anyone markets to men.

“Men and women are biologically and ‘shopologically’ different,” Popcorn told retailers at the recent GlobalShop store fixturing show in Chicago, IL.

How so? Popcorn – the popularizer of the early ’90s “cocooning” trend – listed eight ways:

  • Women don’t buy brands, they join them. Women think relationally, so offer them an opportunity to connect with others through your brand. Examples: iVillage.com and Oprah’s Book Club.

Tip: Form collectors’ clubs to tie into this trend.

  • Women are skilled multitaskers. Merchants who market to just one of her roles – employee, wife, mother – are missing the others.

Tip: Stress the versatility of many jewelry pieces – for example, how they can travel from office to soccer to late-night dinners.

  • If she has to ask, it’s too late.

Tip: It’s been said before but it’s worth repeating: Jewelers should make prices on all jewelry visible. It’s what women want. Honest.

  • Market to her peripheral vision. Women don’t like a direct pitch; they prefer to discover things.

Tip: When a woman is “just looking,” offer to clean her jewelry and point out that worn prong. Or ask her whether she knows her pretty tanzanite is produced in only one country in the world.

  • Walk, run, go to her and secure her loyalty forever. As in romance, women like to be wooed, but this doesn’t mean they want a hard sell. “Ask your customers, ‘Are you happy?’ and I guarantee you will double your sales,” said Popcorn.

Tip: Go out of your way to tailor your jewelry to her. Find out what’s driving her to buy, then meet her every whim. Pamper her, especially if it’s a reward or “spirits-lifter” gift.

  • This generation of women shoppers will lead you to the next. Again, women think relationally. They will shop where their mothers shopped.

Tip: Remind her the jewelry she’s buying is an heirloom she can eventually pass on to a daughter, a favorite niece or a son’s wife. Learn about her family, and suggest gifts for rites of passage, such as religious events or births.

  • Women care about brands so solicit their input.

Tip: Ask a select group of good customers to “try out” new jewelry you’ve just bought. Or when a prospective customer stops in, ask her opinion about jewelry in the news. Actresses are wearing huge hoops these days; would your customer like to see the store carry more big hoops?

  • Everything matters; you can’t hide behind your logo. Nike, for example, once hid damaging information about its manufacturing practices. Now it’s forthcoming.

Tip: Face up to the bad news coming out of Africa about the sale of diamonds to finance conflict. Tell customers you personally are avoiding buying conflict diamonds.

And if you think you have gender differences down to an art, be careful, says Popcorn, a 50ish Baby Boomer who recently adopted a 2-year-old and, thus, gets junk mail from baby gear and retirement home companies. “Don’t generalize your customer,” she said. “Never forget this is a person.”

– by Mark E. Dixon


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications