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Surprise: Men and Women are Different

By: Bill Bleuel

 

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A study of 1,500 US consumers between the ages of 18 and 65, was conducted by the Marketing Store in partnership with research vendor IPSOS. The report was published August 26, 2014. The study was titled “Living Loyal” and it focused on customers who participated in loyalty programs for travel and retail. The categories considered for this study included hotels, retail women’s apparel, supermarkets, airlines, and retail sporting goods. For more detailed information, the report can be found online.

There were general findings from the study that support current knowledge about the retail market. In particular, the study found that customers have on average 10 loyalty cards. Of equal importance was the finding that nearly 2/3 of the customers indicated that being loyal to a brand is not particularly important.

One of the key findings of the study was that men and women approach loyalty from a different perspective. One of the most important aspects of investigating men and women separately was the strategic implications that can be drawn from the differences when it comes to designing loyalty programs.

The study found that men see loyalty primarily as a matter of honor or commitment. Loyalty from a man’s point of view relates more to the organization than to individuals. It’s as if the man is signing up to join a team. Men often use logos on their apparel as a way of identifying themselves with a privileged group (those who wear products with the same logo) thus demonstrating their loyalty.

Women on the other hand, attached loyalty more to individuals within organizations. Women appear to look for highly personalized communications with an individual or individuals within the company. While trust is not a concern for men, trust and devotion are particularly important for women.

When these differences are considered, the loyalty programs for men should aim at identification of the brand with some sort of membership that would suggest some type of exclusivity. On the other hand, the loyalty program for women should be designed to create some form of one-to-one communication between the company and the individual.

The bottom line is that loyalty programs that include both men and women must consider the way that men and women view loyalty. Even though many companies see the marketplace from a unisex perspective, genetics and chemistry demonstrate that differences do exist between sexes. The companies that recognize these differences and develop their loyalty programs with these differences in mind will win.

This article was originally published by The Customer Institute

Published: September 12, 2014
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Bill Bleuel

Dr. Bill Bleuel is an award-winning Professor of Decision Sciences at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Dr. Bleuel’s expertise lies in the quantitative aspects of business. He specializes in the measurement and analysis of operations, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer retention. He has held senior positions in engineering, marketing and service management at Xerox, Taylor Instrument Company and Barber Colman Company. Dr. Bleuel has also experience as general manager in two start-up companies that he co-founded.

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