Everyone is familiar with the image of a hapless schlub being dragged to the mall by a well-meaning wife or parent in order to buy clothing for some occasion or another — or perhaps has been that schlub himself. Men hate to shop, the conventional wisdom says, or at least they hate to shop for clothing.
But according to new research from Bronto Software, the Internet and mobile web are changing men’s attitudes toward shopping fast. Bronto’s 2015 Consumers Tell All survey said that nearly a third of men nationwide (30%) report shopping e-commerce sites weekly —12% more often than women, and up 5% from 2014.
“I think a lot of males are seeing concept of shopping changing and the barriers lowering a little bit,” Jim Davidson, head of research for Bronto, told Retail Dive. “It’s not going to the mall on a Saturday and dealing with traffic and trying things on. It’s ‘I can go to an app and buy the things I need.’”
The fact that men shop more frequently now may lie in the genders’ differing definitions of shopping, he added.
“Females are doing a lot of the same things, but they see it more as research that makes them more informed shoppers when they are ready to go buy,” Davidson said, whereas more males see the web as a last stop on the path to purchase.
Growth is substantial and sustained
Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in men’s apparel. It’s one fastest-growing online retail categories, according to IBISWorld, up 17.4% from 2010 to 2015, beating all other categories measured, including groceries and shoes. And IBISWorld expects menswear to continue to lead category growth in e-commerce, adding 14.2% in sales through 2020.
“I think there’s a lot of growth potential ahead,” Oliver Chen, senior retail analyst with Cowen & Company, told The Street. “There’s opportunity for this to continue to be a very healthy market.”
Just hitting their stride in the workplace and more interested in fashion and distinctive personal style than the age groups that preceded them, millennials are driving continued growth. Young men like to shop more and prefer to shop online, according to Business Insider, with 40% of millennial males 18-34 saying they that ideally, they would like to “buy everything online,” compared to only 33% of women in the same age group.
Online-only shopping plays pay
Web-centric companies such Jack Threads, Mr. Porter, and Bonobos can benefit by offering men young and old the opportunity to look good while avoiding the hassles involved with going to a bricks-and-mortar location.
Bonobos — the biggest U.S. retailer ever launched exclusively online — cast the die for the male-targeted online retailer by offering a selection of curated men’s basics from a well-designed site.
“This was instead of committing to a two-hour shopping trip and coming home with nothing and feeling like you wasted your day,” Joe Weber, editor of the men’s style site Dappered.com, told Racked.com.
“How many ugly shirts and bad pairs of shoes do stubborn guys have to buy to feel like they’ve completed their shopping?” he added. “Today, online shopping has gotten so much better, and Bonobos is one of the companies that helped it.”
Now, in a a twist, Bonobos has entered bricks-and-mortar with “guideshops,” which offer personal consultations, fittings and advice — but don’t offer the option of walking out with your purchases. Shoppers can pick out anything they want in-store, and order it online for delivery from the Bonobos site.
“People are always saying that women love to shop. Actually, men love to shop too, they just don’t want to be carrying around bags,” A.T. Kearney retail strategist Mike Moriarty told Racked. “Men have become much more fashion-conscious now. Bonobos is understanding what their customer wants, and is giving it to him how he wants it.”