Men, Women Lead 4 Out of 5 Stages of the Buying Process

the-5-stagesAccording to Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women, when men and women buy as partners, women control at least four out of five stages of the purchasing process.

Five stages of the purchasing process

1.    Kick-off  – women

2.    Research – women

3.    Purchase  – men

4.    Ownership – women

5.    Word-of-mouth – women

And further, Barletta notes that even though men are present and appear in control during the purchasing stage when they pull out the credit card or sign the contract, they are not really in control of that stage either – they just think they are. A lot happens way before then that actually determines the decision of what is bought.

Stage I – Kick-off

When deciding to buy, it is typically the woman who pulls the trigger to take action. Whether prompted by a friend, or a need or an advertisement, the woman initiates the thought and sets up for the next stage of investigation.

Stage II – Research

Once the decision has been made to make a purchase, it is the woman who does research to develop the short list. She may begin with numerous options, but she is very detail oriented as she narrows the field. “Before women go shopping, they go CROPing, or looking for CRedible OPinions,” maintains Kelley Skoloda, Partner and Director of Ketchum’s Global Brand Marketing Practice. They consult with close friends and family, as well as experts, Web social networking, local news and magazines. Once she feels she has investigated all of her options thoroughly, she compiles the short list or makes a final decision.

It is this list or choice that she shares with the man. So if your product or service doesn’t make it on this list, it is very unlikely it will be considered when it comes time to make the purchase. After all of the research and time she has put into it, she typically knows exactly what she wants.

Stage III – Purchase

Most companies focus on the purchase stage because that is what they are exposed to. Because this is the only stage they witness, marketers and salespeople have the impression that the since the man pulls out the credit card or signs the contract, he is leading the process. This is especially on big-ticket items. But interestingly, Barletta would argue that this is the least actionable stage. All of the work has already been done. Although it appears the man is in control, women will actually step back so as to not correct or address conflicting thoughts in front of others. This mistakenly further verifies the sales person’s misconception that the man is actually in control of the purchase.

Stage IV – Ownership

For the post purchase stage, women are the ones who pay the bills, make the health care appointments, deal with the warranties, arrange the vacation, etc. They will judge companies by how their products or services perform, but should there be a problem they are quick to judge by how their situations are dealt with. One thing to keep in mind at this stage is to love your whiners. Customers who have had a complaint resolved are more likely to use you again as well as more likely to tell others good things about you. Customer service is the new sales.

Stage V – Word-of Mouth

Understanding the value in solving problems during the ownership stage leads to powerful word-of-mouth advertising. But contrary to popular belief, women are actually more reluctant to give a referral than men are. Because women tend to keep personal and business separate, they take giving a referral much more seriously. Men do business with friends all the time, but women need a reason to give a referral–something worth talking about.

If women feel strongly enough about a product, service or company they will recommend you, and because they take this role so seriously, they will be convincing. And then the cycle begins. When they talk, another woman’s buying cycle is kicked off, research begins and so on. Make sure you are paying attention to all of the stages.

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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

20 Responses to “Men, Women Lead 4 Out of 5 Stages of the Buying Process”

  1. I see this cycle again and again across multiple clients.

    It’s strongest with travel irrespective of budget.

  2. Wow, nice blog. Forgot how I found it exactly… something to do with Twitter I think. Anyway, I LOVE MARKETING and if I didn’t go to school for Architecture, I would have went for marketing.

    I will be following this blog. I think it will be very helpful for my start up.

    Marketing can get so freakin complicated… but seemingly women hold the purse strings most of the time lol

  3. [...] touches on some of the key points that Ms. Barletta emphasizes in her writings. The post, “Men, Women Lead 4 Out of 5 Stages of the Buying Process,” outlines the five stages. The two I will discuss are: 1) “Stage II – Research,” [...]

  4. [...] Women control 4 of the 5 steps in the buying process. They just make men think they made the decision. [...]

  5. [...] [...]

  6. [...] dominated by female influence. This is why in the world of B2C marketing, women are considered the Chief Household Officer as they’re actively driving and steering purchase [...]

  7. [...] dominated by female influence. This is why in the world of B2C marketing, women are considered the Chief Household Officer as they’re actively driving and steering purchase [...]

  8. <For the post purchase stage, women are the ones who pay the bills, make the health care appointments, deal with the warranties, arrange the vacation, etc.

    They like to think they do, but in reality it's not the case.

    But, if you want to believe this and if it makes you feel better then go ahead.

    My better half bought a mobile phone last month. She didnt look at the price, it doesnt connect to my network and it has the lamest specs. Why? It looks great!

    sigh….

  9. [...] dominated by female influence. This is why in the world of B2C marketing, women are considered the Chief Household Officer as they’re actively driving and steering purchase [...]

  10. Definitely good to know when considering a marketing technique! Thanks for the post!

  11. [...] is why in the world of B2C marketing, women are considered the Chief Household Officer as they’re actively driving and steering purchase [...]

  12. [...] is why in the world of B2C marketing, women are considered the Chief Household Officer as they’re actively driving and steering purchase [...]

  13. [...] understand that women are directly or indirectly behind most household spending decision. Also, women lead 4 out of 5 stages of the buying process. Three of these stages are closely tied to social media sites: research, ownership and [...]

  14. [...] According to Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women, when men and women buy as partners, women control at least four out of five stages of the purchasing process. Clipped from she-conomy.com [...]

  15. Interesting post, but I find there may be some unsubstantiated points, such as:

    “For the post purchase stage, women are the ones who pay the bills, make the health care appointments, deal with the warranties, arrange the vacation, etc.”

    This is the kind of statement that needs to be backed up by concrete facts and/or statistical data.

    Nonetheless, an intriguing take on the buying process in a modern capitalist society.

  16. [...] Women control 4 of the 5 steps in the buying process. They just make men think they made the decision. [...]

    Bunk.

    Your process steps make no sense.

    I can think of dozens of purchasing decision where my spouse played no role whatsoever. Cars, TV sets, some furniture, shop tools.

    It depends on the item. Roles can change depending on the decision that is being made.

    “For the post purchase stage, women are the ones who pay the bills, make the health care appointments, deal with the warranties, arrange the vacation, etc.” Emphatically bunk.

  17. I see you ended up here from the Unclutter post as well!

    You’re absolutely right. There’s really no evidence to support this kind of thing. Where’s the research proving that there are in fact 5 steps to a buying process?
    And since when was “ownership” a part of the buying process? Once you’ve purchased something, you own it. You’re not still buying it (unless it’s a lease/rent… but I digress).

    This is exactly the kind of post that feel-good blogs will link to, not realizing that there is absolutely no evidence in support of it.

    I could come up with my own theory on the steps of the buying process. That doesn’t make them valid.

    In fact, I propose the steps for making a terrible blog post:

    I: Do no research.

    II: Write some feel-good text that appeals to modern cultural mores (in this case, feminism).

    III: Pass off your own ideas as facts.

    IV: Watch as the suckers take your word as gold.

    Franklin

  18. [...] Men, Women Lead 4 Out of 5 Stages of the Buying Process « She-conomy. 27. Aug, [...]

  19. [...] Barletta, the author of Marketing to Women found that “when men and women buy as partners, women control at least four out of five stages of the purchasing process.” Women decide what to buy. Women research the product. Men pay for the product. Women own and [...]

  20. I am buying a house now with my non-married partner – a male. They keep putting all the letters and docs in his name, even though I am the one dealing with all the vendors and “handling” the purchase. I wonder how much stage 3 above is skewed in this data due to a failure of forms to capture co-owners accurately, i.e. instances when there are two parties but only one is actually repesented?

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