How to leverage gender differences to grow your online business

Part 2 of a series of 4 posts on how understanding the on-site behavior of your customer – their attitudes, expectations, desires and needs - can help you improve their online shopping experience and the success of your digital business.

In our previous post in this 4-part series, we spoke about the 6 main personalities of online consumers and how to improve your chances of selling to them. Next, we’re taking this approach to understanding how people behave online, and moving into the gender sphere.

Men and women think, perceive, and remember information differently. These aren’t the rantings of a misogynist, it’s scientific fact. Scientific evidence exists to show that from birth, men systemize to a greater degree than women, and women empathize to a greater degree than men.

How gender differences impact consumer purchase behavior

Gender differences impact every aspect of our lives, and online purchase decision making is no exception. A Wharton University study (“Men Buy, Women Shop” by Professor Stephen J. Hoch) revealed significant differences between the offline shopping behaviors of men and women. Women think of shopping in an interpersonal, human way, while men treat it as a job to get done. Women are more experience-focused, reacting more strongly than men to personal interactions with sales associates. Men are mission-focused, responding to the utilitarian aspects of the experience, for example, availability of parking and the length of the checkout line.

These findings are relevant to businesses seeking to develop a more segmented approach to building and maintaining loyalty among male and female customers.

Leveraging differences in gender behavior to improve your online retail experience

  • Reasons to go online: Women enjoy the browsing process; men are more task-oriented, focusing finding what they are looking for.
  • Website type: Women spend more time on social networking. Men care more about functionality and are more likely to use a website as a tool.
  • Attention: Women are much more concerned about online security. They tend to need more information to make a decision. Men tend to be more impulsive shoppers, preferring headlines and bullet points.

Case in Point

A Clicktale study of how men and women behave on a recipes website showed how gender influences online behavior. Side-by-side mouse-click heatmap results support the male systemization versus female empathizing theory. Many more women engaged with the top menu bar, clicking into various categories to view different recipes. Men tended to be far more limited in their clicks, searching for what they came for and then leaving the site when they were done.

Clicktale attention heatmaps comparing male (left) and female (right) attention on the page.

As seen by the narrow ‘hot’ band in the center of the left-hand page, men were very focused on the ingredients of a recipe and how to prepare it. The wider, more diffuse ‘hot’ band on the right-hand page showed that women browsed up and down the page more and were less focused.

With increasing competition and customer sophistication, online retailers need to intelligently address each individual shopper. They need to use the right tools to quantify customer characteristics such as gender to grow conversions. Adapting website design by taking gender differences into consideration helps make websites more relevant and enjoyable. It empowers visitors, and ultimately increases revenues.

In the next post in this series, you can read about how retailers can identify the intentions behind digital shopper behavior and differentiate between buyer types. If you don’t want to wait, download the white paper now.

To read more about this topic and to download all four white papers in this series, click here.

Interested in how Clicktale can help you improve the customer experience on your website, mobile site and apps, for all buyer personalities? Request a demo.

I’ll be talking more about the psychology behind online behavior in my upcoming Webinar: Why we shouldn’t be talking about conversion on January 31st and February 1st. Click here to save your seat and hear how you can understand more about the experiences of users on your site to impact conversion.

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