Shop Like Men
I do agree with the findings of Underhill (2000), as consumer behavior does tend to differ between the sexes. In deed men are usually more impatient when it comes to shopping as compared to women, an attribute that can be attached to the differences in the qualities these sets of consumers usually look for in goods or services. This difference when it comes to shopping approaches, I believe runs right from the initial stages of the consumer decision making process. Whereas men tend to trust the more reliable sources of information such as the marketer provided information, women are more trusting of informal sources, such as family members, friends, peers, as well as the marketplace. The second difference is usually at the level of pre-purchase evaluation, specifically the criteria employed. Men pay greater attention to the salient and determinant features, whereas the features women pay attention to are less well defined, therefore requiring greater subjective input and on field research, leading to a much longer decision making process requiring more time, compared to their male counterparts.
The nature of the features men look for in products or services also mean that they are able to make their decisions on what they are going to buy even before reaching the place of purchase. This makes it easier for them to shop as they simply pick whatever meets their preset criteria. Women on the other hand go shopping with a more open mind, whereby even though they go shopping with certain preset criteria, they are more willing to explore the options they find. Perhaps the simplest explanation for the difference in shopping times is the sex difference when it comes to motivation (Huddlestone, & Minahan, 2011). Men are not really motivated by or interested in the process, but rather how they will use the product, whereas women enjoy the process itself, and therefore opt to take their time. If only women would shop like men, operational costs for shopping malls would be so much lower.
Men Pay less Attention to Price Tags
Generally it is a well-known fact that men pay less attention to most of the other aspects or features of items they are about to buy, other than the specific features that have made the item a necessity. This therefore means that the price tag is usually relegated to amongst the last features they look at, and unless a reasonable price tag is attached to the item, they will purchase, disregarding the price. I do therefore agree with Underhill’s findings, as in addition to not really attaching much importance to the price tag, men are also more egotistic, meaning it is possible for ignoring the price tag to be considered a measure of virility (Underhill, 2000).
It is possible for marketers to exploit this obvious weakness, as men’s dislike for the shopping process essentially means that they mostly rely on the marketing adverts they stumble across in the media, both print and otherwise. Most men will therefore not really compare prices, meaning the picture created in their minds so long as properly sold, is what they will go with, as they mostly do not want to be seen as incapable in any way. Enhancing sales through such ploys is therefore possible, as minimum upward price adjustments will most probably not result in loss of the male customer, provided the product addresses exactly what they are looking for. Such measures would also essentially exploit the lack of discipline amongst male shoppers, exploitation long overdue.
As a female shopper or loyal customer, it would be infuriating, as it takes the fun out of shopping, for the female customer, and actually forces out the customer loyal to the particular brand being done away with. Such measures only work with the spuriously loyal customer, whose main concern is convenience (mostly men will be found in this category). Overall, as a consumer, I would feel quite disappointed, as this would limit my options and almost seem as me being forced into making choices on items I have no prior experience on. It would also take the fun out of shopping, as the decision making process is very important, and for this to exist there must be a variety of products to choose from.
Consumers ought to protest, as variety in most cases usually translates to competition, competition translates to a huge improvement in quality, resulting in value for money. Even though the reaction therefore ought to be protest based on this argument, the real situation on the ground is usually quite different, more so if the retailer gets the pricing strategy right. In a struggling economy, brands seem to take a back seat, the sole determining factor in most situations is actually pricing, as it stands, price seems to dictate what is bought, with private labels benefitting due to their obvious price advantage over leading national brands (Kumar, & Steenkamp, 2007). As a manufacturer it would definitely not be in my best interest to reveal that I manufactured the same product that is retailing at such a price, as this would only serve to inspire consumer confidence in the private label, thus even after the economy rebounds, regaining market share might be quite difficult.
Competing along price lines is not only an ineffective approach, but it usually is also a risky one. The target should always be creating a baseline market share of loyal customers, with most of these usually not interested on pricing. The pricing strategies I would favor most are: premium pricing and penetration pricing (Gregson, 2008). Initially in order to gain a proper foothold of the market share, prices can be set a low level, and once the target market share is achieved, pricing can be driven upwards and kept artificially high in order to develop a certain perception amongst the buyers with regards to the quality of the products being sold. Once a perception is created, a huge section of the market share will be converted into loyal customers, a factor that ensures a steady flow of profit, regardless of increments in price due to market fluctuations. Even though these approaches might not result in very high profit margins, they result in a stable and consistent margin, which is immune to new product entries or other market factors.
Penetration pricing has not really worked as effectively as I would have hoped, as the market share gained is rarely proportional to the loss of profit margins. In addition it usually leads to misconceptions, with most of the products being priced using such strategies being viewed as cheap and as a result of low quality. Once the brand image suffers, regaining the lost market share is usually quite a challenge, and artificially driving the prices upwards do not help. The best approach would perhaps therefore be to just create favorable perceptions and select a particular target market for the product. Once a loyal customer base is created at such high prices, a stable volume of turnover as well as high margins are realized.
In cases where coupons are being used, it is quite easy to tell which channel member benefits the most: the consumer. However a close second on that list is usually the retailer, such promotions usually result in a big boom in sales, which then translate to huge profits. This is essentially because the consumer gets the same product at a lower cost as compared to previous situations, which can only be good for the end user. In addition it allows for proper stocking up, which then means that the cost of that particular product has inadvertently been lowered over a longer period of time than it should. Retailers are also able to realize the a larger profit margin within a shorter span of time due to the fact that they are able to sell more within a shorter span of time, and this means more shelf space for display of either more of the same product or even different ones. The manufacturer as well as the marketer suffer two dilemmas, more so if the promotion backfires, the coupons usually serve to set a reference price which departing from is a challenge, and it also reduces profit margins as well as potential future sales. As a marketing manager I would therefore discourage such an approach to marketing, as it ends up costing more than just the coupon costs, and does not really improve market share.
Ariely, D. (2010). Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces
That Shape Our Decisions. Harper Perennial.
Gregson, A. (2008). Pricing Strategies for Small Business. Self Counsel Press.
Huddlestone, P., & Minahan, S. (2011). Consumer Behavior: Women and Shopping. Business
Kumar, N., & Steenkamp, J. (2007). Private Label Strategy: How to Meet the Store Brand
Challenge. Harvard Business Review Press
Underhill, P. (2000). Why we buy - the science of shopping. Touchstone