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How Men and Women Shop Differently

shopping . / Credit: Shopping Image via Shutterstock

Men and women have very different motivations when they shop. New research has found men are more likely to make a purchase to distinguish themselves, while women do so more to fit in with a group. 

"Men strive to differentiate themselves, and group distinctions are more significant for them," said co-authors Sara Loughran Dommer of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Vanitha Swaminathan of the University of Pittsburgh."In contrast, women are focused on forming connections and less likely to classify themselves as separate from others. They are less likely to purchase products because of an association with a particular social group."

Although their motivations may be different, men and women share similar feelings once they make a purchase. In particular, both sexes get a feeling of ownership and attachment to a product after they purchase it.

"Our studies support the idea that ownership enhances the attractiveness of a product, because ownership creates an association between the item and the self," Dommer and Swaminathan said.

The researchers say the strong association formed once a product is purchased gives businesses a big opportunity to boost sales by allowing consumers to try products in the store.  This way, consumers can begin to feel that attachment prior to actually making a purchase.   

[Why Shopping May Be Good for You]

"If ownership increases the value consumers place on products, then companies could benefit from any action that creates feelings of ownership before actual purchase," the authors said. "Our findings regarding gender differences also suggest that, in certain situations, companies may benefit from prompting female consumers to make intergroup comparisons."

This research was a part of the paper "Explaining the Endowment Effect Through Ownership: The Role of Identity, Gender, and Self-Threat." The research will be published in the February 2013 Journal of Consumer Research.

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