Why We Buy

   By drodriguez  Jul 07, 2010

With more people recognizing the fact that women are big time consumers, even more research comes out to further explain what women want in a product and how we go about making our purchases.  An interview with author and consumer researcher, Paco Underhill, was published in Newsweek discussing the ways women are different than men when they shop and make purchases.

Underhill’s new book, What Women Want, attempts to explain what makes marketing and products female friendly and why it is important that companies cater to women’s needs.  One big reason why companies should pay heed to Underhill’s book is that women are responsible for 83 percent of consumer purchases in this country.  

One example Underhill gives of how men and women consumers shop differently is that when men make a purchase like an iPad they may think they need it “because it’s so cool”.  He goes on to describe the thought process a woman often has in this instance, he says “...a women will think, ?Gee, I’ve been carrying a lot of books around in my purse lately - maybe this will save me some weight.’  So while men and women often make similar purchases, it is usually for different reasons.  This goes along with a lot of other research we’ve been hearing lately that women are more practical shoppers.  

Though the research is out there, Underhill believes that not enough companies are catering to the female consumer.  He gives ExxonMobile as an example of a company that has not yet met the needs of women.  Underhill states that the pumps are sized to a man’s hand and their pump areas often lack places for the consumer to wash their hands.  If companies don’t modernize to satisfy the female consumer soon, Underhill believes failure is eminent.  

What do you think of the latest research about female consumers?

In what ways do you think companies should modify their marketing or products to fit the needs of a female consumer?

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Sarah061 by Sarah061 | Ellsworth, WI
Sep 13, 2010

I definitely agree with the research. Even when I'm shopping in typically male-dominated stores, like cybrown551 said, such as Home Depot, I'm always seeing more women shoppers. I think companies in areas that are viewed to be male-dominated like home improvement, hardware, technology, need to think more about what would appeal to a woman when marketing their products. For example, if I need to buy a hammer, I'm going to go to my local Menards and not the Home Depot next door. Why? Because Menards has a grocery section that Home Depot doesn't, and they also sell books, movies and pet supplies, so I can get all my shopping done in one place. In my experience women are usually the ones why buy the groceries (we're usually the ones who cook) so having groceries at a hard ware store is very female-friendly and great for busy working moms.

shonnalahnac by shonnalahnac | newport news, VA
Aug 09, 2010

We have 8 kids,5 girls and 3 boys. I dout the boys know what size of anything they wear,much less how to put it away or the best places to buy! My daughters can not only tell you what sizes they wear,they will also give you the style worn, the cut, the fabric type, where it was purchased, the brand, where the best prices and service are, and what day of the week is the best day to shop to avoid the crowds....now how do you think they came by this knowledge? On the other hand not one of us girls has ever changed a tire, taken out the trash, added oil to a car, mowed a lawn or put up a fence. People want "equality" well I am just saying as far as this family is concerned we like things just as they are! My son was opening doors for his sisters since about 4 years old and the girls have been helping make cupcakes and treats for the boys since about the same age, Why change a system that works? I think most things are set up for woman already when it comes to buying things.

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
Aug 05, 2010

I don't know about changing a tire (I'd much rather just call AAA). But I believe the market for women is out there and needs no further tweeking. We ALL buy enough crap and probably need to slow down! I also think women do make most of the purchases and WE are already informed. I feel we put a lot of thought into products we buy. Not really sure we need to be the target of marketers though.

scatus by scatus | nevada, IA
Jul 23, 2010

I too think women are not effectively marketed to, and yet we are the biggest purchasers!! In my family, the men simply don't shop...but when they do, they fail to look for the best prices, for coupons, and want to get into and out of the store as fast as possible, many times buying the wrong thing in their haste! And when they do make a purchase that might be incorrect they refuse to take it back!! It is too much of a pain for them....They'd rather waste money for their so called convenience!! Seems silly to me!! LOL

danidudack by danidudack | Branford, CT
Jul 15, 2010

I agree also.

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
Jul 14, 2010

He is absolutely right on. I do a lot of shopping and whenever I'm shopping I always see more women than men. Even when I am at our home department stores such as Home Depot and Lowell's I see more women than men shoppers. I've even myself purchase tools. And whenever my husband needs a pair of pants or shoes I am the one who go pick them out and purchased them. My husband doesn't even know the size clothing that he wears. So yes I believe that marketers should definitely rethink their strategy and start catering more to women shoppers.

Lusadi by Lusadi | Wasilla, AK
Jul 09, 2010

I doubt that failure is imminent (not eminent, unless failure has attained a lofty stature or is about to seize property :) ). Regardless of the size of the pump, a woman's car still needs gas. I do think that female shoppers look for products that are either going to fulfill a current practical need or that make them feel better about themselves. One example I can give of advertising that irks me are the ad's published by many handgun manufacturers. I happen to be a woman shooter and frankly resent the sexy model poised to blow across the muzzle of a gun. PLEASE! Complete inanity.

mardel by mardel | SCHAUMBURG, IL
Jul 09, 2010

I also agree with the last two comments!! If we the women are the one's that spend more than why aren't company's making things a lot easier for us!

carlystur by carlystur | ATLANTA, GA
Jul 07, 2010

I agree with pinson!

pinson by pinson | MANCHESTER, TN
Jul 07, 2010

I think someone should make changing a tire easier for a woman.