Gender Trends

The differences between men’s and women’s perception of what’s expendable or untouchable are generally not dramatic, but they can be eye-opening: 16 percent of men consider gour­met food untouchable; only 11 percent of women feel the same way. Then again, it would be interesting to determine how each defines “gourmet.” Nearly 40 percent of men cite a haircut as untouchable; among women, 45 percent say taking care of their hair is something they’re not willing to forego. Women are more inclined to feel that charitable contributions are untouchable; men are more likely to consider a new pair of jeans to be an item they can’t live without.

The research provides a curious snapshot of gender dif­ferences when it comes to dining outside the home. Men and women are on the same page regarding eating at fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread; but men are more likely to view both fine dining and casual sit-down establishments such as Applebee’s as untouchable. When it comes to fast food, 71 percent of women feel it’s expendable. Men are not quite as willing to give up their Big Mac and fries; 34 percent say there’s no way they’ll give up their fast-food fix.

Some of the greatest discrepancies between men and women are apparent in the responses provided when asked about changes they’ve made recently. Nearly 4 in 10 women feel they’ve become more practical and realistic in their pur­chases; and 46 percent indicate that they focus more on what they need rather than what they want. That’s in sharp contrast to how men responded; 33 percent say they’ve become more practical and 34 percent focus more on needs than wants.

The challenge for retailers is trying to make sense of all of these data and make the most of this moment in time. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that regardless of age, income, or gender, consumers do not appear to have strong ties to stores or brands compared to the past. They’re looking for value and they take some pride in being thrifty—except when they’re upgrading their smartphone, in which case, all budget bets are off.

Source: Barry Berman, Joel R Evans, Patrali Chatterjee (2017), Retail Management: A Strategic Approach, Pearson; 13th edition.

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