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Cyclical Sales – The ConsumHERist

Posted on | April 2, 2009 | No Comments

by Delia Passi

Once again I have dug up (Digg’d?) an interesting research revelation about women and shopping.  According to a study done in England (they always seem to do the most interesting studies), “Women’s shopping habits are linked to their menstrual cycles…”  Here’s the bulk of the article:

In the ten days before their periods begin women are more likely to make extravagant impulse buys, according to researchers.  Psychologists believe that shopping sprees could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes.  For the study 443 women were asked about their shopping patterns. The 153 women in the sample who were in the later stages of their menstrual cycle tended to have less control of their spending.

Professor Karen Pine of Hertfordshire University, who led the survey, told the Daily Mail: “Spending was less controlled, more impulsive and more excessive for women in the luteal phase [the days immediately before their period]. The spending behaviour tends to be a reaction to intense emotions. They are feeling very stressed or depressed and are more likely to go shopping to cheer themselves up and using it to regulate emotions.

“She added: “It is also a socially sanctioned way to deal with emotional overload compared to turning to drink or drugs.  If women are worried about their spending behaviour then they should avoid going shopping at the end of their menstrual cycle.”

Really?  How shocking.  Surely once again costly research has told us something we might have arrived at without the help of a bunch of academics.  But at least now it is official – women react to the hormonal changes in their bodies through compensating behaviour (adopting the British spelling for consistency).

Hormones swing, making us uncomfortable and quite rationally we respond by doing something that gives us some pleasure.  We shop.  When we shop, sometimes we buy.  Sometimes we buy more.  We feel better.  We go home.  A week later we feel remorse.  We get over it.  We will shop again.

I mulled over how this pattern might be used by retailers to their advantage.  What I came up with gives me mixed feelings.  When I train sales professionals on providing women the best experience I avoid promoting any kind of manipulation, instead concentrating on effective communications.

But if women are more inclined to buy during the latter part of their cycle, doesn’t it stand to reason that this is the best time to attract them to your business.  But how do you know when to do that?
You don’t know, so why not attract them all the time, but be more attractive to them during that premenstrual period?

My recommendation?  Chocolate.  Promote that you give a free box or bar of chocolate with every purchase of X dollars.  That way, you offer women an indulgence they might naturally crave during the same time when they are more inclined to buy.  They come to your store partly for the chocolate that comes with every purchase.

Is it manipulation?  Not the way I see it.  It’s just smart marketing.

(Alternate strategies: Put a coupon in Midol packages.  Relocate your store next to the chocolatier at the mall.)

Delia Passi, Founder of WomenCertified® and author of Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women is a regular columnist on ReachingWomenDaily.  Delia can be reached at delia@medelia.com.

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