Have you ever noticed that if you really want good information about a product, you’re much more likely to find that information in a product review than in the product description itself?
Why aren’t product descriptions more helpful?
Here’s one thought: Men and women may care about different things. Product descriptions may not be speaking to both genders’ needs. In product reviews, men talk about what they care about, and women talk about what they care about. This may be one reason why reviews help increase conversion.
Here’s a real life example. I searched for reviews for gas grills. Although the reviewer’s gender isn’t always obvious, I picked two that had a good chance of being either male or female.
First, an excerpt from a gas grill review by “dickiedo” — I’m guessing that’s a man:
Pros: It is sturdy, attractive and cooks good.
Cons: I wish the control knobs were on the front of the grill.
I bought this grill at Home Depot in the morning and that afternoon I grilled the best steaks I have ever cooked using the cooking instructions provided by Weber. The next day I grilled some great tasting hamburgers. Before cooking the burgers I heated the grill and easily brushed off the residue from the steaks leaving the cooking surface clean. I really liked cooking on my Weber charcoal grills, but I am now a firm Weber gas grill fan.
Now, an excerpt from a gas grill review by “juliet166″ — I’m guessing that’s a woman:
Pros: weber quality, even cooking, portability, easy cleanup
Cons: 14oz. propane canisters, lack of warming tray, no side trays
I became a weber convert several years ago after purchasing a genesis silver c, and experiencing the exceptional cooking found in weber grills. Due to a divorce and move to a small apt without a deck, I was desperate for a grill that I could easily transport outdoors to use, but would not take up a lot of space inside my apt. Because of the dome shaped lid, it easily fits a small roast, or vertical rib stand. Clean up is easy just by letting the grill run a few minutes and then brushing with a wire brush.
I have not had any issues with the automatic ignition. I have been using my grill for 3 months now, and it always starts on the first or second push.
Here’s what’s interesting about these two reviews: They’re an example of the gender preferences Joseph Carrabis of NextStage Evolution talks about on the iMedia Connection blog, where he insists that women purchase strategically while men purchase immediately:
Men make purchasing decisions based strongly on immediate or present needs.
Women want to know that today’s purchase will meet their immediate needs, mid-term and even their needs long-term needs. Long-term and far-term usability can even be a stronger consideration for the female purchasing persona than immediate need
Notice that in Dickiedo’s testimonial, he’s talking about purchasing the grill that morning and grilling that afternoon — great job of speaking to a guy’s immediate and present need.
In Juliet’s review, she’s commenting that even after 3 months, the grill still starts on the first or second push, meeting a longer-term durability need.
Carrabis discusses another gender difference:
Men are willing to make a purchase once it has been demonstrated that someone else was successful with the same purchase; kind of a, “that worked for Joe, so it’ll probably work for me” mentality.
Women posit things differently. It’s good to know if something worked for Sally; it’s better to know what Sally’s motivations were for her purchase. Success in itself isn’t meaningful unless the conditions leading to success are the same. (So much for women not being cut out for the sciences!) This can be thought of as, “it may have worked for Sally, but Sally bought it for reason A and I’m interested in reason B, so the same purchase might not work for me.”
Juliet shares her background motivation for purchasing the grill. She’s recently divorced and moved to a small apartment without a deck. She wanted something she could transport outdoors but wouldn’t take up a lot of room. Now a woman can compare her motivation to Juliet’s to see if it’s a good match for her situation, for her motivation.
How can manufacturers and e-commerce sites use this information to create better product descriptions that sell more products?
One more hint. While both Dickiedo and Juliet mentioned “easy cleaning”, Juliet got very specific with what that means (“Let the grill run for a few minutes and brush with a wire brush”). This may also tie-in with women’s need for longer-term value. I know a woman who’s sworn off a famous cookware brand because their products are very sensitive and hard to clean. Remember, she’s not just thinking about cooking dinner tonight, she’s picturing how she’ll use the product for months, even years to come. Make sure you’re talking about what it’s like to use and maintain the product in the future as well as the present.
By using keywords that address the underlying motivations of both men and women, your product descriptions are sure to pick them up before the competition.
About the Author: Holly Buchanan is co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth — Today’s Female Consumer: Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys. If you’d like to become a customer pickup artist like Holly, join her on June 2nd for FutureNow’s Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar in Manhattan.