Gender Wars?

AOL is saying that more men are shopping online now, than women. Not only that, the ISP is saying that men are spending more money online than women.

The first notice–one of several I received, this week–came via a notice from MediaPost (subscription required), which posted an article by Gavin O’Malley on the topic, titled, “Men Open Their Wallets Online.”

According to the article, “On average, men spent $204 online each month, compared to $186 spent by women. Furthermore, 42 percent of men shopped for luxury goods online vs. 35 percent of women.”

Representing the women’s market, at a time of year when WE do almost ALL of the shopping, I heartily disagree with these findings, though they are from a qualified research firm, BURST! Media. Chuck Moran, the company’s market research manager is quoted saying, “Women tend to hesitate, and go looking for more input from friends and family, while a guy is more likely to comparison shop online and impulsively pull the trigger.”

While the latter part of his statement is a good bet, the former, citing what women do online, is suspect. Most women I talk to, and I talk to a fair amount– through email, blogging, and even on that old-fashioned contraption, the phone–find shopping online FREES them from needing input from family and friends. When we get to the shopping online part of our day, we know what we want, and we often know where we’re going to buy it. I challenge Chuck Moran to talk to the same women I talk to.

IF…and that’s a big IF…men are spending more online, it’s because MEN MAKE MORE MONEY than women do. Yes, folks, there’s no way around it. Even now, in the beginning of a new millennium, women are paid $.73 to every $1.00 a man makes, regardless of background, education, or experience.

eMarketer, the online research firm famous for objective market research, says Q4 retail sales are expected to increase by 27.6% this year, because, “The experience is faster, more secure and more consumer friendly.”

So, of course, guys are going to hop on that bandwagon. But, girls have been on it for some time now. And, if we’re not cha-chinging up those big numbers, it’s only because we don’t have the cash to spend!

Higher income = more spending. Doesn’t take rocket surgery to figure that out. Of course, Burst! Media even has a press release on its site to support that assumption. To their credit, this paragraph goes into some of the details regarding online shopping and why guys spend more than gals,

Households with High Incomes Utilize the Internet for Information

—-Like BURST’s past studies, the current study finds nearly all income segments relying on the Internet for product and service information. Among respondents earning $75,000 or more, nearly two out of three say the Internet is their primary source for information on products and services they are planning to purchase; an increase from the November 2003 and June 2002 BURST studies’ findings. —-

Let’s make it clear– online spending is continuing to rise. The digital divide is slowly being dissolved, making the gigantic mall of the Internet, a great place to research products and services, and to buy them.

People purchasing online do so mostly for convenience– sometimes for price, often for the ability to “shop around.” Guys do it just as much as gals.

In the end, women are spending MORE by virtue of the fact that they are shopping more, and buying more, regardless of income. The AOL study strikes me as a bit off the mark. Where the rest of the world is courting the women’s market because Moms buy everything for everybody, AOL is giving businesses the impression that their products and services will do better in front of men.

In the end, I’d like to ask AOL what those luxury goods the men are spending those big numbers on, are—something nice for the wife or girlfriend, perhaps? Or, some nice electronic gadget for themselves…for which, trust me, they asked the wife or girlfriend about FIRST.

Whatever. It’s Christmas. If a woman isn’t buying it, she’s asking the man to buy it. Win-win. Doesn’t matter which gender enters that credit card number. All that matters is…serving the customer. At least, that’s all that should matter.

Happy Holidays.