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When it comes to what influences purchases and how people shop, the gender gap seems to be getting narrower. According to the latest First Insight Inc. report on purchasing behavior, men are shopping more online — as well as on mobile devices.

“The Rise of the New Male Shopper” also showed that men are turning to traditional department stores to shop more often than women, which includes luxury brands such as Gucci and Prada. And, according to Greg Petro, president and chief executive officer of First Insight, the findings are forcing the company to dig deeper into these differences.

Petro said he was surprised by the findings of the report, and said the “significant shift in shopping behavior of men compared to women was astounding as it shattered some age-old gender stereotypes.”

“Although the frequency of males shopping is up, we’re interested in diving deeper,” he told WWD. “Our next step is to research the difference in total value and number of items in men’s purchases versus women’s.”

According to the authors of the report, the estimated percent of purchases made online by men grew year-over-year. “When comparing the percentages of purchases men said they made online this year, male survey participants felt that 41 percent of their purchases were being made online, compared to male survey respondents a year ago who said about 38 percent were made online,” authors of the report noted. “Women, conversely, are making a smaller proportion of purchases online this year compared with last year. Women respondents reported making only 40 percent of their purchases online this year, down from 46 percent reported last year.”

Petro noted that a key takeaway for the company in reviewing the findings “is that the percentage of men saying they never make purchases on mobile devices plummeted from 2017 to 2018, from almost half [48 percent] to less than one in five [18 percent].”

“It’s also noteworthy that men are more likely than women to be frequent Amazon shoppers [53 percent versus 45 percent],” he said. Finally, men continue to embrace new technology at a faster rate than women: 70 percent of men who own smart speakers are using them to research products and pricing, versus 46 percent of women, a 52 percent relative difference.”

There is one area, though, where the genders diverge: Researchers at First Insight said the data shows that 25 percent of men versus only 15 percent of women reported “shopping six or more times a month at mass department stores like Kohl’s or J.C. Penney.”

“Luxury stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci and Prada saw 19 percent of men versus 5 percent of women shopping six or more times a month,” authors of the report noted. “Similarly, 41 percent of men surveyed reported shopping at Walmart six or more times a month, versus just 35 percent of women.”

How can brands and retailers leverage these findings? Petro said it is important for companies to first recognize that men “are shopping with them often, both online and in store, and proactively target the male shopper accordingly via pricing, advertising, marketing and promotion.”

“It’s important to focus on customer centricity — to align with the customers’ wants and needs and learn to leverage how their shopping behaviors are evolving,” Petro told WWD. “Men are researching pricing more than women using their devices and are constantly looking for the best deal. Others have reported or predicted big increases in self-gifting among men during their holiday shopping and a trend away from waiting for, say, the weekend before the Super Bowl to buy that bigger-screen TV. Retailers and brands can leverage this in their messaging: If the price is right for the item you want, why wait when you can get it now?”

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