How Gender Affects the Decision Making

Last Updated: 03 Jul 2021
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Table of contents


It is quite obvious that, as men and women have different needs and wants they are going to be attracted to different products, however they are going to have a unique gender characteristics approach to the way the make a purchasing decision and embark on the process when deciding how to acquire the product they want.

Importance of study

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I feel the importance of this study is a contemporary marketing issue as the subject of how gender affects the decision making and buying behaviour processes is a key topic area.

They way consumer approach to the buying and decision making process affects how marketing is being perceived in its effectiveness or ineffectiveness; by only appealing to one gender and sending the ‘wrong message’ out.


Time constraint was a major contributor to limitations of this study, however with good organisation and an academic thought process the hypothesis has been proven with some really interesting new facts.

Without sounding patronising, I would assume you would agree that a worldwide collection of data from the questionnaire would bring in some interesting results, but as this study only needs to focus on a small majority, we are happy with the outcome.

Organisation of study

For the purpose of this study a sample of 100 consumers will be taken. 50 men and 50 women between the ages of 16-40 will be surveyed using an specially designed questionnaire, to be distributed to our sample online using e-mail and social networking site. A ‘snowball effect’ is highly likely in this case and will only add more credibility to the validity of the results recorded in this research study.

In this literature review the comparison of findings from other researchers on the subject surrounding the differences between male and female purchasing and decision making process. This literature review will show a further understanding of the subject gender affecting consumers approach to their decision making and purchasing process.

The intended outcome of this review of relevant literature will show the findings on whether there are any proven differences between the way male and female consumers make their purchasing and decision making process.

Overview for review

In this chapter we hope to be able to share with your what we have found from other academic writers on this subject that we feel relevant.

We have researched deeply into the subject, and have found articles from the US interesting.

The chapter is now split into relevant sub sections leading to the summary and methodology where we hope to prove our hypotises.

Buying behaviour

It is just not possible to study exactly what happens in the consumers mind when making a purchasing decision because, as we have found, the individuals mind is just so complex and varies dramatically from individual to individual. Instead theories of decision making process can help assess what makes the consumer decide in their buying process they are committed to purchase.

Egan, J (2007) describes how two different types of paradigm called cogitative and behavioural are utilised by individual consumers when entering into a purchasing decision.

Firstly, the cogitative paradigm is controlled by the individuals functioning and rational thought process, these are goal-orientated ways the individual can process information. The functioning and rational thought process linked closely with the cogitative paradigm is determined by the way the individual makes their choice by problem solving and decision making.

The behavioural paradigm followers accept as true that it is not possible to be able to study exactly what goes on in the mind when making a purchasing decision as the mind is just too complex; so instead a black box is used to help measure the flow in and out of the mind representing how behavioural patterns occur.

Egan, J (2007) has also shown that there are many processes in which the average consumer should and can experience when making a purchasing decision, to post purchase but not always in the same order and these are explained here further:

Routinized problem solving: Is when repeated purchasing of the same product takes place, usually of low cost and limited external knowledge.
Problem recognition: Acknowledging that a purchase must be made to accomplish a need or want.
Information search: When the consumer collects information that compares the product before making a purchase decision. Evaluation: Evaluating the information collected for the purpose of making an informed purchasing decision. Decision: In terms of buyer behaviour, making the decision to purchase. Purchase: When the act of exchange takes place. Post purchase evaluation: When the product is evaluated and the consumer decides if they would re-purchase the product. Straight re-buy: This is a term widely used by B2B when the consumer decides to re-buy the same product from the same supplier. Total set: Meaning all the products that are available in the same category. Awareness set: When the consumer is aware of the available items in the same category.
Evoked set: Are the products in the category that the consumer is aware of and intents to make a purchase choice from as they are at the front of mind.

How the decision making process works?

The process of making a decision can be different for each individual but is largely accessed on the basis of common decision making traits by the decision making process. As the decision making process involves the use of thoughts and feelings, knowledge and past experiences, before the end decision is reached it can be affected by many external factors such as the opinions of others and previous behaviour associated with potential purchase.

Integrated marketing communications looks closer at the way the individuals purchasing and the decision making process is affected by external influences. IMC is described by Pelsmacker as “The idea behind integrated marketing communication is coordination of messages for maximum impact.” Pelsmacker describes this as an impart that is created through the use of synergy. Synergy is the linkages that are created in the indivduals mind as a result of the messages that are received to create an impact, described as an impact “beyond the power of any one message on its own.” (Pelsmacker De, P. 2001).

We have found that the decision making process consists of 5 main stages; the need of recognition and problem awareness, the use of information search, evaluation of any alternatives, purchase and the post purchase evaluation. This model suggests that each individual goes thought the same stages for every purchase; however for more routine purchases, it can be possible for the individual to miss out a stage or complete the decision process in the opposite order.

The need for recognition starts the decision making process, by making the individual recognise a need/problem or simply respond to a marketing based stimulus by thinking about the decision making process.

Problem awareness prompts the individual to consider how much or little information is needed. When the need is strongest to purchase, then the individual could make the purchasing decision to buy straight away; if the need is not strong then the individual will embark on processing information and will conduct an information search as Pelsmacker described.

An information search is the main influence on the individual’s decision making process. The individual may seek to obtain any relevant information from many different sources, including; family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

Commercial sources including advertising and sales people can also contribute. Sources considered as public such as newspapers, TV and radio can play a part in contributing. And finally, experiential sources such like physically handling, investigating and using the product will play a part in influencing the individual’s final purchasing decision.

Evaluation of alternatives encourages the individual to assess what else is available to them in the market place, assessing prices, alternative brands and brand credibility and benefits/services.

As every individual is different, the helpfulness and influence any sources of information could be to them will vary by product and individual.

Here the Foote Cone and beldin (FCB) shows how the levels of involvement are ranked in a grid format.

Involvement affects all consumers but in different ways. As different individuals can purchase the same product, their individual levels of involvement will be different as they are purchasing for different reasons and as the levels of involvement range from high to low there are always different expected outcomes as some individual’s levels of involvement could not be described simply as high or low.

Engel and Blackwell (1982) showed their understanding of involvement levels based solely on high involvement routine decision making and repeated purchase behaviour in the low involvement products. Where as in the Foote Cone and Beldin Grid, they have made their understanding on thinking and feeling.

For each factor there are resource implications as the individuals personal self-esteem can make the complex confusing. For example:

“The purchase of a can of tomatoes, or a carton of milk, should be regarded as relatively low involvement because it has little financial or social risk attached to it. By comparison, the purchase of a car or holiday is highly involving. The potential benefits from the success could be very high but the personal costs of failing could also be very high. In addition to the product itself being more or less involving, individuals themselves can have different levels of involvement.”

The individual uses the information obtained to feel involved with the product they are considering purchasing. So where the involvement is regarded as high, the individual is more likely to carry out an extensive evaluation.

The post purchase evaluation is the final stage in the purchasing decision. If the individual is not entirely happy with the purchase they have made they may think that an alternative would have been better, this is called ‘cognitive dissidence’. When cognitive dissidence has taken place it is common that the individual will not repurchase straight away and will often choose a different brand when making a similar purchase in the future.

The impact of gender on the decision making process

It is fairly common that, as men and women want different products that they are going to have a unique to their gender characteristics, a process when deciding how to acquire the product they want.

It is also a widely regarded opinion that women do more shopping than men, does this make them more informed when making a purchasing decision perhaps, with all that experience surely women are more informed than men.

In recent research published by the NFWBO (National Federation of Woman Business Owners) it has been found that women are the primary decision makers in 85% of households, women make 75% of the decision when buying a new house and 81% about groceries. The article goes on to reveal that women are the main influencers on spending for the household and women have over taken men in spending online.

Firstly there are many factors that point towards the notion that men and women are likely to make purchasing decisions differently. Hennig Thurau, (1998) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006) found that men use more information and communications technology products (eg videos, mobile telephones and computers) than women, and that men show a greater interest in these products (Rudell, 1993) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006) also that men show a increased interest for the latest technical products compared to women (Dialoge 4, 1995) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006) .

It has been found that men are also more likely to engage in variety-seeking purchasing (Helmig, 1997) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006), exhibit weaker brand involvement (Guest,1964) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006), be less environmentally concerned and be less likely to buy environmentally-friendly products (Ozanne et al., 1999).

Having already established that men and women are looking for different outcomes in their purchasing decisions, gender affects consumers approaches to decision making (Mitchell and Walsh, 2004) and the decision difficulty (Walsh and Mitchell, 2005) cited in Mitchell, V. W., Walsh, G. (2006), while gender differences were also found for appearance-related attitudes and behaviour (Burton et al., 1994).

Mitchell and Walsh (2004) found in a study they lead which went further into examining how gender can affect the decision making process, that Sproles and Kendall’s (1986) ‘consumer styles inventory’ (CSI) had found five new male buyig behaviour categories, these discoveries include:

  • A need for satisfying
  • Enjoyment and variety seeking
  • Fashion and scale seeking
  • Time restricted
  • Economy seeking

Bakewell, C and Mitchell, V.W (2006) conducted a study on the different decision making styles of women and men, they used a sample of 480 young males and females and identified nine different decision making styles that both sexes used and three decision making styles that just males used which are;

  • Store loyalty and low price seeking
  • Confused time restricted
  • Store promiscuity.

These are interesting results, especially considering that young males have agreed with young females that they consider store loyalty important. Bakewell and Mitchell sum up their findings as this “The findings suggest retailers should focus on loyalty creation programmes, price related appeals and methods of improving shopping related efficiencies when targeting young male shoppers.”

Elliott and Speck made an interesting discovery when they researched into how males and females differ when it comes to purchasing decision, they picked up on the fact that advertising affects individuals differently, even though all advertising is meant to make the consumer want that product that is being marketed to them. “Males are reported to perceive less advertisement clutter on television and in magazines” (Elliott and Speck,1998).

Unusually it has been found that at least 9 researchers have found in existing literature and agreed on the following point

“Consumer decision making is likely to be related to a number of consumer traits such as social class, the type of family unit, age, gender, lifestyle and life-stage – all of which can exert an influence.”

(Meyers-Levy and Maheswaran, 1991; Burton et al., 1994; Darley and Smith, 1995; Costa et al., 2001; Mitchell and Walsh, 2004. Cited in Beynon, M.J. et al. (2010)

This point is interesting as it shows that advertising does not affect every consumer the same way. So we know that males and females make purchasing decisions differently, but we are now aware that age, lifestyle and life stage can all contribute to the purchasing decision making process.

It has been found and proven by another group of researchers, that gender type differences are highly evident in the decision making and purchasing behaviour process; as gender characteristics are evaluated differently, depending on the gender of the individual (Gefen and Straub (1997), Venkatesh and Morris (2000) and Sun and Zhang (2006) cited in Hernandez, B. et al (2011).

We can reveal that the genders controlling the process all possess these three points:

  • Men are more pragmatic
  • Women experience greater anxiety when faced with new activities
  • Women are more strongly influenced by their immediate environment

Key findings from literature review

From investigating any relevant sources we have found that there are many factors, not just sex, that can affect the individuals buying behaviour such as: race, religion, culture which plays a great role in defining who we are from an early age. Family being a primary source and work colleagues being a secondary source are big external factors that can influence the individual’s decision.

Internally there are primary factors that affect how consumers make purchasing decisions, attitude, perceptions and learning styles are significantly great influences. These characteristics like age, gender, income and family style act as further determinants to what the consumer finds interesting and appealing.

Reed and Ewing (2004) describe the ‘Magic bullet’ theory is a stimulus-response concept; also how it was an underlying assumption of communication developed from early models of communication around the time of the evolution mass market (P.Reed and M.Ewing, 2004). The magic bullet theory was initially believed to be able to implant the media message to the audience in a ‘uniform’ fashion so that the audience would then be able to directly respond to the mass advertising message, sounding similar to a subliminal message theory.

The ‘magic bullet’ theory was proposed to work on the belief that consumers were rational decision makers who were actively seeking products information; subsequently allowing this theory to work on the grounds that the consumers could draw stored advertising and marketing information from their memory.

The proposal of this research study is collect data from a sample of participants that will decide if the hypnotises is proven.

For the purpose of this study a sample of 100 consumers will be taken. 50 men and 50 women between the ages of 21-45 will be surveyed using questionnaires that will be distributed online.

The questionnaires will be sent to a small sample of respondents, the respondents will be firstly screened for their age and location, thought the best effort will be made to only contact respondents that meet the studies criteria.

The benefits of using the internet to distribute the questionnaires are that a theory known simply as the ‘snowball effect’ will help our questionnaire reach more respondents. This is because as we send our questionnaire to the selected respondents, they will forward on the link to our questionnaire to their friends, colleagues and family, who will be of similar specification to the respondents we original contacted. The ‘Snowball Effect’ is highly likely in this case and will be welcomed as it will add more credibility to the validity of the results.

A focus group will take place after the results of the online questionnaire are analysed. The researcher has chosen to conduct the research in this manner as they feel it will give the them a good idea of what topics within the research question need to be addressed and investigated further with the member of the focus group.

The purpose of this research study is to gather information on how and why males and females make their purchasing choices and decision making process when faced with the decision to purchase an item.

The research aim and objective of this research study is to establish and verify if in fact men and do think and act differently when faced with making a purchasing decision.

The approach used to conduct the qualitative and quantative research is based on academic methods which are widely recommended thought UK universities. The researcher has chosen to conduct the research for this study purpose in this manner, as it is widely understood and proven tool to collect and analyse research.

However a lot of academic research methods are out dated and long winded. In the case of this study purpose, the time constraint is just a few months so….??

The research strategy is to firstly establish our target audience; once we are aware of them we can word our questionnaire suitably to their level. This is a key starting strategy, as if they do not understand what we are asking them, they cannot be expected to give an honest answer, subsequently making the results un-validable.

By selecting a sample group, it has given the researcher an opportunity to select from a wide range of consumers ie: professionals, students, unemployed and of different race and class. This is make sure every point is considered and analysed.

The amount of time allocated to designing and completing this research task was 3 months.

2 weeks, 4 days and four hours it actually took from researching, to designing, to distributing to finally analysing the questionnaires:

  • To research into the target market: 1 week
  • To research into the design on questionnaires: 1 day
  • To design and create the questionnaire: 2 days
  • Sourcing contacts suitable for taking part: 3 hours
  • To distribute the questionnaires: 1 hour
  • Collecting and analysing results: 1 week

The researcher found time to complete this research around working a full time job, and made it possible in the time horizon stated.

Research methods (including sampling)

For this study purpose it was found the most effective way of producing a good quality of validable results using quantitative and qualitative research to gain a better understanding, first hand, of what today’s consumers are thinking and experiencing in the consumer market.

As stated in the previous chapter, the questionnaire was designed by our researcher. The questionnaire was reached and created to suit the level of participants who took part.

Using previous professional, academic and work colleagues the questionnaire was distributed thought email and posted on a social networking site. We felt both these avenues would be successful for our study purpose as we could reach a large amount of our sample.

From the link submitted in the email and social network post, we advised out target group follow the link to a survey specialist website, where they could fill in the questionnaire we designed.

We decided to use the survey specialist website for the reason that it was popular amongst other academics, it is trustiest and overall because it is safe. Safety is a big issue for consumers online and this is wanted to assure was fine.

Another option for collecting responses to our questionnaire was by post, we decided against this idea for the reasons, it is slow and costs money; whereas online is free and fast.

After we had reached a suitable number of responses we collected the results. After the results had been verified and sorted, our researched entered the data in a spread sheet. The data was then analysed into percentages and made into graphs.

The sampling has been aimed at including consumers between the ages of 21-45 because this guarantees that each individual has had experience in different purchasing scenarios and will be more inclined to be open and honest in their answers.

Sampling is seen to be appropriate for this study purpose as time and money are a constraint meaning that a survey of the whole nation would take far too long and cost far too much money for this study purpose and could ultimately restrict the data collected to a sample between the ages of 16-40 in the UK and Ireland.

The design of the questionnaire will be simple but not basic, with no confusing or ‘trick’ questions. The use of simple language will be used to insure that any questions will not be misinterpreted.

All data received from the participants will be treated confidentially and will not be used for any other purpose or shared with any third parties.

Data analysis

Questions were sent out via email to a large number of particiapnts, they were specially selected, depending on age range (16-40) and location.

The researcher specifically controlled where the questionnaires were being sent as they did only want to receive replies from UK and Ireland consumers. Keeping the research within in boundaries has prevented the sample on becoming to large or collecting information that could not be used.

Information that couldn’t be used for this study purpose would be from an individual aged under or above the requirements as this wouldn’t be viable from this study. Also individuals from other countries as this study is just testing the hypnotises in the UK and Ireland.

As the sample used to collect the qualitative data for this researched has been kept small, it allows the researcher to pay special attention to the results.

  • The results will be analysed using excel, excel is a reliable and provides excellent validity to the results.
  • The results will be calculated into percentages to give a good idea of how many participants answered each question.
  • Each questions results will be displayed in a range of graphs, these include pie charts, bar charts, line charts and others.

It was intended to keep the sample for this research purpose between 80-100 participants, this was to insure that every question answered could be entered into the excel database with ease, ensuring that the researcher did not miss any answers.

To make sure the results reliable, any answers send by participants that did not meet the requirements of age and location were safely disposed of. Special care was taken here so that the main sample was not affected and kept to the guidelines stated by the researcher.

For collecting the research there has been special attention paid to collecting both forms of qualitative and quantitative data, this is to insure that our results are fair as they will be analysed by a profession.

Ethical considerations

With a respect to ethics, each individual taking part in this research will be treated with an un-bias, understanding and fair attitude.

To ensure that this project treats all individuals who take part in it and form part of the research, each participant will agree to sign a consent form being signed before taking part in the research.

The consent form will give the participants ‘peace of mind’ that none of the information they share with the researcher will be shared with anybody else. All participants information will be safely stored, where they cannot be tampered with thought-out this study purpose. After this study purpose all information kindly collected from the questionnaire and focus group will be safely disposed of (shredded).

Chapter summary

In this chapter we will be examining the results interpreted from the data collected from our sample.

All results are available in the appendix chapter of this document, they will be referred to thought-out this chapter.

Interpretation – okay – you are going to add the statistics (nice, colourful charts I hope!) in an Appendix. But interpreting and reporting the results of No. 4 needs to be informative but above all, interesting. Feeding the anticipation I mentioned above is important.

So, for example, you found that more 20-year old females bought Nike trainers than 20-year old males after seeing a male-dominated Nike advert – wouldn’t that be a big surprise to the marketeers.

So that kind of stuff – beating the old stereotypes – finding something new is essential to the analysis and conclusion of the thesis.

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How Gender Affects the Decision Making. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved from

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