Men Outspend Women On the Web

Wednesday Dec 22nd 2004 by Christopher Saunders
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Marketing-savvy, small business e-merchants take note: New data shows that male shoppers could be high-value customers, particularly in certain product categories.

While women generally represent the more sought-after gender by mainstream offline marketers — they control the majority of families' discretionary income — new research suggests that it's men who spend the most online, particularly in certain product categories.

According to new research from America Online, men will spend up to 15 percent more during the current holiday season. Based on the data, gathered from more than 6,200 shoppers, men will spend an average of $326 online, versus women's $284 dollars.

Outside of the holiday season, men spend an average of $204 monthly on Internet goods and services, while women spend about $186.

The survey also found that men who buy online go on the Web to look for deals more often than their female online shopping counterparts — about 31 times a month, versus 22 times for women. Women make about 20 percent fewer online purchases each month.

Luxury goods and services represent a key segment for the male shopper, with 42 percent of the survey's participating males saying they shopped for such items online. That's compared to 35 percent of women. Additionally, online men are also willing to spend a maximum of $1,751 for a single item they buy online, while women said they would pay $787.

It's not clear why this is the case. One reason might stem from males' greater experience in online shopping. About 46 percent said they have been e-commerce users for more than three years, while slightly fewer — 39 percent — women reported having similar tenures.

It's important to note, however, that female shoppers actually outnumber male shoppers, according to AOL, which conducted the survey in August and September. (Other studies back this up — Shopping.com reported during last holiday season that women comprised more than 52 percent of its traffic.)

"While women do represent the majority of online shoppers, men are outspending them," said Bob Hayes, vice president and general manager for AOL eCommerce. "And, more than that, they are no longer just shopping online for the convenience, now they are also researching and browsing and comparing prices."

Both men and women cited online music and video, clothing, and books as their top categories for holiday gift-giving. However, men are more likely to give two categories of products as holiday gifts: consumer electronics (38 percent, compared to 25 percent of women) and PC software or hardware (37 percent, versus 25 percent).

Men surveyed by AOL also indicated a greater intent to buy gifts from the sporting goods and travel services/tickets categories than women.

Women, on the other hand, plan to purchase more health and beauty products and toys as gifts.

Christopher Saunders is managing editor of ECommerce-Guide.com.

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