The Graduate School’s Dr Stella Minahan and Michigan State University’s Patricia Huddleston have just published a new book, Consumer Behaviour: Women and Shopping, exploring the evolution of shopping and the reasons women shop.
Globally, women are expected to contribute $28 trillion to retail spending by 2014, according to Dr Minahan. While her co-authored book is primarily aimed at a US market and is based on the latest US data, Dr Minahan said she and Professor Huddleston had found very similar traits in US shoppers to those Dr Minahan had identified in Australian, British and New Zealand shoppers several years ago.
The seven reasons women shop
Dr Minahan said that, broadly, women shopped for seven main reasons:
- functional necessity
- to be with family - there is a strong tradition of mothers and daughters shopping together
- positive distraction from the tensions of everyday life
- as a treat to reward oneself for an achievement or to feel better (retail therapy)
- to stimulate the senses by exploring the latest in trends
- for social connection
- for a sense of control - women can use shopping to manage a negative situation or express their financial independence.
Dr Minahan notes that while women might be touted as the saviours of Australian retail industry's economic doldrums, the industry needs to get smarter about how it reaches them.
‘The United States insists on well-qualified senior management, but that has not been the case for Australia,’ says Dr Minahan.
‘There are some differences [between Australia and the US], more related to the mobility of the American population, but the lessons for retailers span the globe,’ she said. ‘One which immediately springs to mind is that retailing is a global business, US retailers are being exposed to this research and upgrading their retail skills through systematic education. My question here is, are you [Australian businesses]?’
‘Once upon a time the shops were the treasured third place for women, they were greeted by big, opulent merchandise displays, reading rooms, lounges, health and beauty services, exhibitions and shows. While the new shopping centres provide a range of stores, they don't quite provide that level of personal facilities for women.’
‘For the retail industry an understanding of women, their motivations and preferences for shopping is critical. Women will determine whether a retail business survives, thrives or fails.’
Dr Minahan said retailers also needed to think about how their store layout affected different types of women shoppers.
‘How you have the store laid out, how you manage your return policies, what your sales people do or don't do and whether you harness the shopping power of several generations shopping together will determine whether women spend their money and time with you or at the new emerging 'third' place - the gym.’