Friday, June 10, 2011

Overcome Gender Stereotypes

Retail Design and Technology invited me to participate in a debate for the July 2011 issue. The question on the floor: “If most shoppers are from Venus, why are most stores designed by Martians?” You probably realize the terminology is from John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.”
     Here is my argument:
     American humorist Robert Benchley wrote, “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”
     Put me forever in the box with those who believe there are more than two. No, wait, the human condition is much too rich for there to be permanent boxes at all. Certainly, female consumers are different from male consumers. I’ve seen the research as I craft shopper psychology findings into specific tactics my retailer clients use to make more money. Men tend to like sharp contrast. Women tend to like harmonious flow. And that’s only the start.
     But since the wrong advice from researcher to retailer could mortally sabotage profitability, I advise placing special attention on the phrase “tend to.” The variations in preferences within the population of women and within the population of men are, in many realms, more significant than the average differences overall between men and women. Statistical significance—the holy grail for academic researchers—is not the same as practical significance out in the world of shoppers flowing into and through a store, in various settings and at various times not at all segregated by gender.
     Any notion that only Venusians are capable of competently designing shopping spaces for other Venusians would box us into unnecessarily limited possibilities. That’s beyond humorous. It’s silly.
     The biological imperatives that distinguish men from women take different forms depending on the situation. The lady trying out cosmetics wants some privacy. We design a little nook she can tuck herself into to hide from the competing females. The gentleman pulling the pricy cologne bottle off the shelf prefers to announce his acquisition to any woman in the vicinity. No nooks or crannies for him.
     Now let’s offer our pair a pedicure. We’ll want to arrange group seating for the woman. When she socializes, she’s happier, so she’ll come back to our shop soon. And she’ll bring along her friends, adding to the merchant’s revenues. The gentleman? Give him privacy.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Recalibrate for Shopper Gender Trends
Explain Yourself to Female Customers

1 comment:

  1. Perfect Timing! Did you see the frou-ha-ha about the glass (see through) staircase in the lobby of the new courthouse? Lady Judge's comment? "Must have been designed by men!"