Shop like a man

Women, at least according to recent statistics, are responsible for about 80 percent of household purchases. I love that we hold all this power in our hands. Designers and marketers of items big and small have taken notice and as a result we have wonderful innovations like open kitchens. One problem with all the estrogen funneling to our checkbooks is that men – it turns out – have some surprising advantages as shoppers. This week, with the help of marketing expert Delia Passi, CEO of womencertified.com , I took a look at what we can learn from how the other half shops:

One problem with all the estrogen funneling to our checkbooks is that men - it turns out - have some surprising advantages as shoppers. Hunt, don’t gather. Much of male shopping behavior harkens back to their hunter (male) vs. our gather (female) roots. Men tend to know what they want, find it and get in line at the cash register. They’re done. The secret is a good old-fashioned shopping list. Make one and stick to it.

Map out the store. One way to be sure you don’t end up on more of a gathering mission is to think about the layout of the store before you go, and to go to stores you’re familiar with. Men tend to do this. They can walk into a Target, go directly to the electronics aisle, and then get out of the store. Women go into a store and walk the aisles or think: While I’m there I might as well pick up. “We think we are saving ourselves trips. We end up spending more money,” says Passi.

Get over yourself. When women feel slighted or hurt by a shopping experience, the research shows it takes up to 4 years for us to recover. Men take just 11 months. What happens in the meanwhile? If that particular store offers a great deal, women are going to miss it because they aren’t going to want to give that store their money.

Look. Don’t touch. Women (myself included) shop with all of our senses – we touch the merchandise, we smell things, we listen. Men aren’t as tactical. And it helps them. Once you touch a piece of clothing – and particularly once you try it on – your psyche takes possession of that item. At that point, behavioral finance researchers have found, not buying the item begins to feel like a loss. That hurts more than many of us can handle, so we buy more than necessary. (It’s the same reason we don’t sell stocks once they’re down. We don’t like the feeling of losing.) If you can keep your fingers to yourself – as men do – you’ll save in the long run.

Go shopping solo. Women shop with friends. It’s a social experience. For most men, it’s not. By making it a social experience, you egg each other on to buy. You can’t not purchase the dress that your friend said made you look thin or fabulous. And if one person buys something, the others feel like they should as well in order to have been a full-participant in the event. Going shopping by yourself enables you to more easily walk away from potential purchases.

Jean Chatzky

About Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC’s TODAY show, is an award-winning personal finance journalist, AARP’s personal finance ambassador, and a contributing editor for Fortune magazine. Jean is a best-selling author; her eighth and most recent book is Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security. She believes knowing how to manage our money is one of the most important life skills for people at every age and has made it her mission to help simplify money matters, increasing financial literacy both now and for the future. In April 2013 Jean launched Jean Chatzky's Money School , a series of college-style, interactive online personal finance courses that give men and women across the country the opportunity to learn from and interact directly with her. Jean lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.
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