Thursday, October 25, 2012

Discontinue Dichotomies If Continuums Fit

Boys and girls are naturally different, so retailers naturally think of merchandising stores to categorize what might appeal to one more than to the other. Yet it’s useful for the retailer to remember that even something as dichotomous as childhood gender often can best be merchandised to as a continuum.
     There is the small minority of boys—estimated at between 2% and 7%—who preferred dresses to pants when young. Among girls, researchers at Tel Aviv University found a continuum of doll preferences. Girls who preferred Bratz dolls to Barbie dolls scored on a sex role inventory as showing, in a number of ways, fewer tendencies traditionally considered feminine.
     These girls often said the reason they liked the Bratz dolls was the doll’s clothes. The clothes for Bratz dolls aren’t as frilly as those Barbie wears, and Ken could easily tell apart his main squeeze from the bald True Hope™ Bratz, sales of which benefit childhood cancer patients. Still, most human boys would prefer to play with toys other than either Barbie or Bratz.
     Moving on to adults, the variations in preferences within the population of women and within the population of men are, in most realms, more significant than the average differences overall between men and women. The biological imperatives distinguishing 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. The gentleman? Give him privacy.
     Next, let’s move on to other dichotomies. For instance, shoppers on a mission versus shoppers seeking possibilities. Or consumers most interested in how to prevent losses versus those most interested in how to achieve gains.
     These differences are real, and there’s research evidence some of them are based in biological imperatives as firmly as is gender. Still, the dichotomies are creations for our convenience as retailing professionals. They’re helpful in our planning. Let’s never be imprisoned by them. Consumers, being people, are too complex to be dispatched to one of two buckets.

Click below for more: 
Overcome Gender Stereotypes 
Have Shoppers On a Mission Look at Possibilities 
Sell Either Protection or Promotion

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