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FutureNow Article
Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008

Using Customer Review Keywords to Pick Up Women, Men

By Holly Buchanan
April 29th, 2008

men vs. women product reviewsHave 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

men women product review value

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?

  1. Talk about both immediate and long-term value. “Take it home this afternoon, grill steaks tonight”; “Our grills start at just the touch of a button now, and for months/years to come.”
  2. Talk about different motivations for buying the product and successful uses of it. “With our even heating system, grillers of all skills can cook the perfect steak every time”; “If you live in an apartment but still want the that backyard grill experience, this is the grill for you. It’s small and portable, but with a domed lid, so it’s big enough to cook family meals like a small roast or vertical rib stand.”

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.

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Comments (33)

  1. This kind of relates to what I am planning to do when I redesign my individual item pages. I plan 2 different bulleted lists, one for features and a bulleted list for benefits, side by side. Features may be more toward the guys and benefits more toward the girls.

    I do not know if this will work well but think it is worth a try.

  2. Sounds like I would do well hiring a woman for some copywriting work. :-)

  3. There’s something quite wrong about these reviews. Both read like marketers or PR reps writing from a bulleted list of gender-related benefits.

    Would a consumer actually use a phrase like “experiencing the exceptional cooking found in weber grills”?

    Color me yellow and call me a chicken, but I don’t think these are genuine reviews!

  4. Jack,

    I can’t speak to the authenticity of the reviwers. But if you want to do further research, go to epinions.com and look up the grill each person is talking about.

    dickiedo has only written one review (according to epinions.com) but the review you call out was written by Juilet166. She has written three other reviews. You can see her information here: http://www.epinions.com/user-julietl66

    I’ll let you decide if she is real or not.

  5. The problem with user reviews is that epinions or tripadvisor can’t speak for the authenticity of the reviews either.

    It’s quite simple for a competitor or marketer to use these, there’s not verification of the reviewer past a working email address. I’ve got quite a few of these myself and can set up hundreds more in a few minutes.

    Combine that with most readers really believing that the reviews are accurate, and we have an area of WOM that’s ripe for abuse.

    In fact, I’m sure you’re aware that it’ll be illegal to avoid disclosure if you’re blogging or writing online on behalf of a company or commercial organization. This is a direct response to past abuses.

    There’s a real danger here that spammers and shady practices will destroy the value of user reviews. Personally, I think that would be a disaster.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a straightforward solution to combat the problems with the current user reviews model. I think we may soon be back to square one and “buyer beware” being the best defense for any consumer.

  6. Jack, you make some excellent points about the danger of using online reviews “for evil,” and we all know companies that have been caught with their virtual pants down on this issue.

    But that aside, I think Holly has done an incredible job of showing different communication styles and the need to write copy that speaks to specific genders. Sure, you can write decent content and get a decent response, but it’s worth the experiment to write to her needs and time horizon to see how much growth you experience in your business.

  7. we must also consider another very important aspect, culture.

    A woman in ASIA does not necessarily react the same way as in North America

  8. This is a fantastic article, Holly. Email copywriters can benefit so much when segmenting lists by gender and writing copy based on male/female reviews. Or when including actual customer reviews in email creative, marketers can select reviews from men in male campaigns and women in female targeted campaigns. Another reason to ask for gender during email registration. Better targeting is win-win for both marketer and email recipient.

  9. You know, I did not notice it until I saw this blog, but I find myself completely skipping over the product description more and more (unless it is furniture and it has dimensions) and going straight for the product reviews.

    So here is a little story as an example:
    I am a gardening addict, I am physically unable to pass a greenhouse without ‘just walking through’ ($100 and 2 hours later the trunk of my car has dirt in it and my husband is rolling his eyes). I do a lot of product research online before I set foot in a greenhouse though. I also shop for gardening accessories, and those I will buy online- site unseen.

    I need a mini-greenhouse to get my tomato plants ready for planting- one site only has the huge 1500$ ones, more than I need. Another competing site has a mini one that is reasonably priced- the product description was ok- had the dimensions I needed at least.

    But it was the customer review that made my decision not to click ‘buy it’. Cheap and flimsy material, hard to put together is what I remember of it. Suddenly the price did not seem so reasonable.

    I did tell my husband about it- his response “Buy it and try it out, if it doesn’t hold up, then return it to the store.” (And if the website had a clear return policy statement anywhere near the ‘Buy It’ button that said I could do that- I would have. Guess what- they didn’t do that, I still have not bought it, I still need it).

    Morale of the story? (Yes, there is one!) – There are defiantly different buying perspectives between men and women. But I would not always exclude one from the other, some purchase decisions are made by couples where both perspectives are at play and need to be taken into account. (Consensus anyone?)

    Looking forward to June Holly!

  10. Great article – very interesting. While you use gender to break it down, it also just goes to the matter that the more you can specifically reach out and grab the traffic you want, using their words, the better – and customer reviews give you that: a variety of specifics in customer’s own words!

    As a health copywriter, I’m giving this particular thought since so often women are the main purchasers of supplements for their family. So even if a supplement is geared towards men, it may be the woman (wife, mother, daughter) who is making the purchase and needs to be convinced.

  11. Howdy,
    Sometime remind me to tell you the study we did on gender-based differences in humor (things women will laugh at that are lost on men and vice versa). It’s a hoot. To some of us. – Joseph

  12. This may sound cliche, but this is an awesome post. We were just talking about the difference in the man-women car buying experience, and how Ford wants to sell more cars to more women. Most women hate the car buying experience, and it is connected to what you said. Women care about process, men care about result. We think about down the road, men think about what’s infront of them. I bookmarked your blog. So much great info here. Thanks!

  13. What a great idea to use reviews to find the actual words women are already using instead of trying to use words that are familiar to us. What better place to find what women are actual thinking than their own reviews which reveals their own words.
    What a great tip! Please keep them coming!

  14. Hey,

    Great article. I think in many ways I buy more like a woman, even though I’m a guy. It took years of practice, but now I try to avoid the impulse buys.

    Thanks, Brad

  15. Great post. My question is to what extent a large purchase would differ from the purchase of a grill. And, how do we draw a correlation between the fact that 80% of consumer purchases are done by women with this info?

    Still, an excellent article! Thanks!

  16. Great info here! Our clients online are primarily men, and I now realize that the copy is written for their decision style.

    To convert our new target market – female chefs – I’ll be giving a lot more attention to the gender differences you’ve noted here.

    Thanks!

  17. [...] demographics: SHOP.com users are 70% female, and CNet shoppers are more often male. Perhaps landing page copy geared to different sexes would perform [...]

  18. [...] buy a new grill, take it home, grill some meat. Meat grilling problem solved. Women want to know if the grill is easy to clean, if the buttons still work when summer rolls around again, if it looks good in the yard, if you can [...]

  19. [...] buy a new grill, take it home, grill some meat. Meat grilling problem solved. Women want to know if the grill is easy to clean, if the buttons still work when summer rolls around again, if it looks good in the yard, if you can [...]

  20. [...] Les hommes au contraire veulent arriver sur la boutique, trouver ce qu’ils cherchent et repartir. Ils ne cherchent pas d’aide, sauf si celle-ci leur permet d’aller plus vite. Ils pensent en terme de besoin immédiat plutôt qu’en terme de besoin sur le long terme . Le choix des mots clés dans les recommandations clients pour attirer les hommes ou les femmes [...]

  21. [...] Men and women care about different things – and if you want an illustration of this principle, check out product reviews by different genders to see what they care about. [...]

  22. [...] the next level and use customer reviews to market to the sexes, check out Holly Buchanan’s post Using Customer Reviews to Pick Up Men, Women. Enjoyed reading this post? Subscribe to the RSS feed and have all new posts delivered straight to [...]

  23. [...] You may discover different ways of gleaning from customer reviews than the ones mentioned here. The takeaway here is that you tap into the consumer conversation that’s freely available to you, and consider how you can leverage it to improve your product copy. If you want to take this to the next level and use customer reviews to market to the sexes, check out Holly Buchanan’s post Using Customer Reviews to Pick Up Men, Women. [...]

  24. [...] customer reviews differently because they care about different things. Holly Buchanan explains how to pick up girls / guys with customer reviews, and incorporate them into your product descriptions for better [...]

  25. [...] demographics: SHOP.com users are 70% female, and CNet shoppers are more often male. Perhaps landing page copy geared to different sexes would perform [...]

  26. Great post,
    this is very informative,
    keep up great writing.

  27. This is a fantastic article, Holly. Email copywriters can benefit so much when segmenting lists by gender and writing copy based on male/female reviews. Or when including actual customer reviews in email creative, marketers can select reviews from men in male campaigns and women in female targeted campaigns. Another reason to ask for gender during email registration. Better targeting is win-win for both marketer and email recipient.

  28. To convert our new target market – female chefs – I’ll be giving a lot more attention to the gender differences you’ve noted here.

    Thanks!

  29. There’s a real danger here that spammers and shady practices will destroy the value of user reviews. Personally, I think that would be a disaster.
    Ignacio Perez de Vargas

  30. Since men are perfectionists, they do one thing at a time. Since they focus on one thing at a time, they can make quick decisions. Whereas, women have brain that is more capable of multi-tasking. So, when they shop, they start thinking of many things related to the product.

    This is the reason, we have hired more female writers to write content for our business website.

    Andy.

  31. A very interesting perspective on the differences of genders. Thanks for sharing!

  32. list campaigns. Another reason email registration they can make quick decisions.one for features and a bulleted Whereas, women have brain for benefits, side by side. Features may be more to ask for gender during

  33. I think where man and women are equal, when it comes to making a purchase is through word of mouth. if a friend recommends something you will have a look

    Anyone else agree

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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