Do women really spend more? Breakdown of shopping habits for both genders

Photo: iiievgeniy via Bigstock

The stereotype of the shopper has always been a woman. Enjoying, taking the time to look at the products, making sure that other stores don’t have something more suitable or a better price – that’s what we’re used to seeing the traditional female shopper.

However, we often see men as those who sit on the benches of the mall outside the stores, praying that their wives would put an end to the torture sooner.

While stereotypes are often overly generalizing and imprecise, virtually all retail store surveys confirm that women do indeed enjoy shopping much more, and that they also spend much more on personal products: According to Bloomberg, women are responsible for as much as 85% of all consumer purchases within the US.

This number is not surprising when you consider that women enjoy shopping much more than men and they usually control the majority of household incomes, as conventional wisdom goes.

However, it is not entirely correct to attribute shopping habits only to genders. Shopping habits are largely based on individual preferences, meaning the spectrum of shopping behavior is broad for both genders and often overlaps. Despite this, studies show consistent trends across genders.

The four groups of female shoppers

According to the popular belief, if you want to do something really well, you have to be passionate about it. And women are certainly much more passionate about shopping than men.

In general, female shoppers are selective and thorough with their purchases. They tend to compare prices, look at the competitors and look for the products that are a perfect fit for them, despite the time and energy it takes.

According to a study by the AMP agency, women’s shopping behavior is closely related to their way of thinking. Once women have developed a particular shopping mindset, it is very unlikely that they will change it throughout their lives, even as they get older, have children, move to another region or even when their financial situation gets better/worse.

The study divides shopping groups for women into four categories. The first category, Cultural Artists, described as creative, impulsive, and adventurous women, outsource the most among all buyer groups — they individually spend an average of $7,672 per year.

These women are the main target audience for retailers in fashion, clothing, beauty and wellness, health and nutrition – they are always looking for things to buy and like to try new things. However, they are also the smallest group of all, making up only 11% of consumers.

Natural Hybrids are those who seek the practical balance between durability and fashion in a product. This group of women, described in the study as confident and well-balanced, also like to try new things, but they’re not your classic early adopters — only half of them would be the first to try something new among their friends.

These women spend an average of $5,383 annually and make up 34% of female shoppers.

The largest retail group comprising 35% of all female shoppers is Social Catalysts. They are the stereotypical fashion slaves: they generally know a lot more about new product releases and trends in the fashion/clothing markets, and pride themselves as experts in the field.

Social Catalysts only succumb to Cultural Artists in publishing, allocating an average of $6,035 per year; however, they would probably incur the greatest expenses if they had higher incomes. According to the study, these women view a night out as a good investment, making it safe to assume that their not-entirely rational attitude to their personal finances makes them a financially underperforming consumer group.

That is why they are the main users of online coupons and discount hunters: to keep up with the latest trends dictated by major retailers such as JCPenney, one must refer to discount sources to stay in the game.

As for the last group – the content managers – they are not the typical female shopper. They don’t really like shopping: they see it as a chore, something that needs to be done, and they value the smoothness and speed of the shopping experience over the latest trends or new products.

Given that these women can become loyal customers for suppliers who can provide a consistent, hassle-free shopping experience.

What about men?

Due to their lack of interest in the shopping process and their significantly lower share of consumer spending, men are not the primary target audience for retailers. When it comes to their shopping behavior, men tend to trade much more linearly than women.

Very few men say they really enjoy shopping in the store. Men’s brains are set up to be a lot more task-solving, which means they don’t like to stroll through stores — when men need something, they’re on a mission to find it.

In general, men will only buy something when they really need it, and their worst nightmare is to walk out of a store empty-handed.

Since in-store shopping experiences are extremely unappealing for most men, many of them opt for online shopping.

Why? Because everything about online shopping makes sense when you consider men’s shopping attitudes: they don’t want to spend time traveling to brick-and-mortar stores; they don’t like the in-store shopping experience, it’s easier to find products online; they don’t tend to look for the perfect product – a first sufficient option will most likely do the trick.

According to a marketing consultant Jim Fostermen tend to shop alone and also don’t care much about revolving sales and available coupons – they’re lazier than their female counterparts in the prize-hunting game.

They don’t tend to research their products extensively and settle for options they find “good” rather than looking for the perfect product/deal.


Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.