The great shopping divide

New figures from the emma audience survey show how men and women use print and digital media to support their different types of shopping behaviour. And we discover heavy newspaper readers are big spenders.

The great shopping divide

Any man who’s been dragged around shopping centres as their partner seeks out the totally-must-have pair of Jimmy Choo’s knows women do this stuff differently.Shopping Insights infographic

And girls, how useful are guys in these situations . . . for the most part, they’re no use at all, sitting in the corner of the store, refreshing the cricket score on their smartphone.

The reason for our opposed shopping behaviours can be put down to evolution, according to recent analysis.

In hunter gatherer societies, women played the role of gatherers and foragers. This was a social, group-based activity. They had to be choosy about what they took back to the village in case it was poisonous.

The hunters were all about the quick kill, working in short bursts of energy to bring down their prey.

So it is today with shopping.

Shopping is about facts for men and people for women

Women meander through shopping precincts as if they are foraging, seeing it as a social, serendipitous experience in its own right. Their purchase decisions are more influenced by social media, weekend newspapers, friends and family.

Men have a more goal-directed approach, relying more on newspapers and magazines for their information, and often just jumping online to get what they want.

Their attitudes to the salesperson are also striking. For women, the sales assistant provides an opportunity to be social and garner information and opinion. For men, they’re little more than a speaking map of the store.

Social media don’t impress men much

Social media plays a very different role in men and women’s lives. While both sexes have high usage of social media (58% of men and 67% of women in last seven days), there is a startling difference in how they feel about this.

Only 40% of men admit to liking using social network sites, compared to 59% of women, according to latest data from emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia).

From a shopping perspective, 22% of men claim social media as a source of useful information on the eight categories emma measures, compared to 26% of women.

Print media are sought out when people are buying.

Compare this to newspapers which influence a significant 53% of men and 52% of women.

Even 43% of people classified as light- and non-readers quote newspapers as one of the most influential paid media on their purchases. This implies newspapers are specifically sought out for advice and ideas during the purchase process.

Big newspapers readers are big spenders

Heavy newspaper readers spend significantly more than non-readers.

emma shows  heavy newspapers readers spend

  • 28% more on furniture and home wares,
  • 21% more on electrical goods,
  • 12% more on footwear and
  • 11% more on cosmetics and fragrances.

When you add up their increased spend, it comes to nearly $1,000 a year more for heavy newspaper readers than non-readers.

Online shopping surprises

If your image of the average online shopper is a 20-something woman ordering a new dress from The Iconic instead of purchasing it at a Witchery store, then you’d be wrong.

The peak age for online shopping is 30-44. Some 48% of them have shopped online in the last month, compared to 43% of 14-29s.

Women are less likely to have bought something online in the last 4 weeks than men (37% vs. 40%). Perhaps this is due to the current impersonal, non-social, goal-oriented nature of online shopping that suits men.

A high correlation exists between people who shop online and those who shop offline. For example, frequent online shoppers (monthly or more often), still retain a positive index on shopping at David Jones or Myer (index 113 and 112 respectively), and Witchery (index 141).


Two varieties of shopper exist and these tend to align with gender. They are the goal-directed purchaser who find a target, research it and then go and get it. This generally appeals more to men. Then there is serendipitous shopper, who is happy to just see what happens and hope for a special something to leap out. This is the more female.

Newspapers play an important role for both types.

More than half of consumers seek out newspapers to help them with their shopping research and decisions. But there is also a serendipitous element in which newspapers and their branded sections are brilliant, showing you things that you hadn’t previously considered.

For marketers, this creates new demand.

Shopping Insights infographic


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