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Gender Specific Traits Affect Web Usage, Fact or Fiction?

Posted on | July 2, 2008 | No Comments

By Tom Polanski, Vice President/Co-founder, eBrand Media & eBrand Interactive

I spent part of the afternoon in our library and came across an article, based on PEW studies, regarding differences in the way that gender searches. All of it is pretty obvious. It’s not rocket science. Gender traits, many of them seemingly stereotypical, carry over to the internet.

For example, women are social people who multitask and browse. A woman looks at the internet as a means to connect with others of a like mind. She is more likely to use the internet to stay in touch with family and community. Our research shows that women are more likely to belong to and participate in forum and social media sites than men. Furthermore, our testing indicates that women are more likely to shop multiple sites then men…many times simultaneously with multiple windows open. There is pleasure derived from the shopping process that is lost on men.

In addition, the women we queried take pride in finding name brands at great prices or close facsimiles at even better prices.

Men are task oriented problem solvers. Online they have specific goals that they’re trying to meet and they want to take the shortest path possible to achieve that goal. In addition, our experiences indicate, men online, like men with the pieces of an IKEA table laid out on the floor in front of them, probably won’t read the directions. If they’re forced to, they’ll scan the directions for a highlight that will reorient their relationship to the task. 

It’s been said that for men; life is a problem to be solved, for women; life is a mystery to be explored. We’ve found this thrust, this through line, to carry over on to the web. Generalizations?  Absolutely.  However, the origins of many branches of science are rooted in generalizations.

Interestingly, older men, 65 and older, are more likely to be online than older women.  Younger women, 18-29, tend to go online than younger men.  This stands to reason because older men, born into the Industrial Age, are more likely to be comfortable with technology than older women born into the same epoch.  Conversely, I think, younger men are likely involved with the outdoors, rock and roll bands, competitive sports, ect.  Whereas younger women, many of whom are practiced at creating complex relationships while playing with dolls as children, are more likely to go to the internet to look for ways to enter into relationships.

It should be clear that when men and women move to the beat of different drummers. When they interact with a site, there are distinct differences in how they assimilate information, navigate sites, and respond to motivational messaging and visual cues.

This leads one to wonder about left hemisphere versus the right hemisphere of the brain findings when it comes to marketing. Remember that the prevailing opinion is that men are left hemispheric while women are right hemispheric. To learn more about the supposed differences between the hemispheres and to take a fun, easy test, visit the URL at the end of this article.

Clearly, you must understand, before launching a new campaign, the psychographics of your current customers, target a publisher with demographics that are close, and then launch a media campaign accordingly. To illustrate, if launching into the MSN network, which is primarily educated, well compensated women, then companies offering products or services that are appealing to women would create banners and rich media ads that are highly visual with ad copy that starts a relationship rather than demanding an immediate decision. This relationship, community approach helps to explain why free trials and continuity programs work so well with female targeted products.

Search is an anomaly in that it is a left-brain activity only. It involves the intellectual, actionable pursuit of information. It’s dry as desert dust. No colors, no images, nothing to appeal the non-intellectual aspect of the consciousness.  Therefore, it can’t be approached from other directions; it forces men and women to use their left hemispheres as they interact and customize the results they’ll see leading to the sites they’ll visit. Please note though, it stands to reason, that the taglines and descriptions you write should vary from men to women, depending on the gender you want to reach.

In closing, none of this is written in stone. For example, when I took the test below, I slanted towards right hemispheric orientation. But as stated; many branches of science are based on generalizations. This information will affect how your company will market to an audience. It should be clear; it’s critical that you market to women differently than men. Sony has done this, as has Ford. Will you?

 Are you a right or left hemisphere person? Click on the URL to find out –,21598,22492511-5005375,00.html


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