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No Help Wanted: Shopping Tactics Different For Men

The high from shopping til you drop can quickly fade for shopaholics, who's spending can wreak havoc on their relationships and wallets. (Image credit:

The stereotype of a man refusing to ask for directions while driving may carry over to shopping as well, researchers announced recently.

The results, which are based on survey questions, show that women are much more likely to seek out other people for guidance about wine purchases, usually from interpersonal relationships, such as friends and family. But men are less likely to ask others for help, and instead prefer to get information from impersonal and published materials, as well as from their own experiences.

However, the decision about whether to seek help with a purchase from a retail clerk or family and friends depends on a man's level of knowledge about the purchase. If in a purchasing pickle prompted by inadequate information, men will turn to others for advice.

The findings could help marketing professionals develop better strategies for selling their products, said Nelson Barber, an associate professor of hospitality management at the University of New Hampshire. Barber added marketing professionals need to take into account subjective factors, such as a consumer's subjective knowledge of a product and information they turn to when making buying decisions.

Barber and colleagues had 543 men and women who considered themselves wine consumers fill out surveys. The participants answered questions about how they went about purchasing wine in various scenarios, such as for consumption at home, for a gift, or dinner party.

For each scenario, they indicated the importance of different sources of information, including personal (retail clerk/salesperson and family/friend) and impersonal (recommendations from wine critics and published material sources).

Overall, men surveyed viewed themselves as much more knowledgeable about wine than women did, with 59 percent of men reporting a high level of subjective wine knowledge, compared with 46 percent of females.

While men were more likely, in general, to turn to impersonal sources of information, when it came to buying wine as a gift, they valued the input from retail clerks, friends and family members just as much as women.

"This understanding will lead to a more critical look at marketing strategies aimed at establishing relationships, particularly with male customers and particularly given they are an untapped and potentially large market," Barber said.

The results were published in a 2009 issue of the Journal of Consumer Marketing.

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