Welcome to the the Ivey HBA Retail Marketing Management blog. Retail marketing is an exciting, dynamic, important, and very visible aspect of the overall field of marketing. Throughout the year, students will be posting comments regarding contemporary retailing issues. Although this is intended to be used by Bus 4411 students, industry marketing professionals are also invited to join in if they like.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


As criticizing is a French hobby, I won’t make you discover a brand that you don’t know, I won’t talk about the famous concept of “RVP”, I won’t point out that today using the Internet or being eco-friendly are success keys for retailers, no, today I just want to react to David Steinhauer’s article, because it is more funny. To summarize, his article deals with the fact that men are more effective and efficient shoppers than women. Men only purchase what they need and they spend time in shopping centers as little as possible. Certainly, his thesis is partly true and, he explains, “while I may be stereotyping or generalizing, I am simply writing about my experiences,” so I just will write about my experiences.

Actually, this article treats a major a question in marketing: are purchasers rational? Men are probably not as rational as women. Men can have the same irrational behaviors as women, they can buy clothe on impulse, and they can hang out in mall for hours without finding anything. In regard to the argument that men tend to buy what they need, we find some counterexamples. For instance, I’m not sure that buying a Hummer corresponds to a real need. On the contrary, buying a Hummer would satisfy hidden desires like virility. Conversely, the myth of ménagère de moins de 50 ans, which I would translate by housewife under fifty, is based on women who are very efficient in their purchases. According to a French survey in 2007, French women would be more rational than men when they buy clothes: 40% among men declared that they indulged themselves when they bought garments versus 21% for women.[i] We can argue that some cultural differences could be taken into account, for instance that France is not Canada, but there is a major trend: young men don’t purchase clothes like our fathers

Retailers have two general ways of approaching men markets.

When we talked about the different solutions to make stores comfortable for men, I thought of a concept coming from Germany, called “Männergarten”[ii] or day-care for men. This idea was born and developed in Hamburg. It is based on the fact that men are supposed not to like doing shopping. In this Männergarten, women can leave their husbands in a bar placed in a mall where men for ten Euros have a lunch, two beers. They can also tinker and watch soccer matches. This bar is receiving a lot of publicity from newspapers such as the New York Times. The concept seems to be profitable and could be copied in malls in Frankfurt, Berlin, London or Paris. Not only such a day-care is demeaning for men but it also relies on archaic clichés of men. Yet markets for men could be in my opinion more promising than markets for women.

The place of men is changing in society partly resulting of the evolution of women. Today differences between males and females are getting less and less significant. Some current male behaviors would have been impossible a few decades ago. Men take care more and more of their appearances and this represents huge markets for clothing, perfume, cosmetic firms. For example, the French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier launched two years ago a cosmetic products range for men.[iii] Watch the commercial as it is interesting in an anthropologic way and contrary to what you could think it doesn’t target homosexual. Prospects are better in markets for men than for women. A French survey showed thus male clothing market increased by 1.3% between 2005 and 2006 and amounted to 8.5 billion Euros (13.4 billion Canadian dollars), whereas the female clothing market has known a 0.3% increase in the same period.[iv] As a result, stores can target more products to men in order to increase sales. Generally speaking, stores should be male-friendly by allowing men to express their metrosexual side in their stores. Stores for males don’t have to be warehouses where men could stay a few minutes before leaving; they should be comfortable places inviting men to stay. Clothing retailers can also use clichés to target this market. The French brand Jules –my post is very French-centered, sorry about that- launched an advertizing campaign based on the stereotype of macho. It is written on this ad: Men are supposed to be a sex maniac…

To conclude, I won’t argue that there are not differences anymore in way of purchasing between women and men. However, we have to treat these differences very carefully, otherwise we caricaturize their respective behaviors. The trend for men to take care of their appearances creates new markets for firms which have to change their way of targeting men. Gender differences are a crucial topic, but if we still say that women are less rational than men, then let’s read again Simone de Beauvoir.

I advise you to watch the episode 8 of the seventh season of South-park: "South Park is gay".

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