Friday, July 20, 2012

Men: Shopping For Handmade Jewelry

man pushing shopping cart
Many Etsy shops are running Christmas in July promotions and it got me thinking about the upcoming holiday season and how men shop.  It's never too soon to start getting our merchandise and shops ready.

Most of you who read this blog are women who design & make jewelry and have online shops.  If you're like me, you've wondered how you can increase the number of male customers in your shops.  Only a handful of guys have bought jewelry from me but one thing I've noticed is that they seem to be very decisive.  None of my male customers have favorited any items and purchased them later.  According to Ron Sabando, "Men generally shop with the swiftness of assassins. Of course, you will find indecisive specimen among us, but most of the time shopping keeps us from other activities, so it must happen quickly. We generally know what we are specifically looking for,  so it is mostly seek and buy."¹ 

They Want Convenience:
A Wharton study found, "'For women, "lack of help when needed" is the top problem (29%). It is also the likeliest reason that stores lose the business of women shoppers. Indeed, according to an analysis of the study's data, about 6% of all female shoppers could be lost to stores due to lack of sales help. Men, however, ranked "difficulty in finding parking close to the store's entrance" as the number one problem (also 29%)."'²  This explains why some men prefer online shopping.  They don't have to find a parking space or brave a crowded mall.  Ernie Wilder wrote a comment to the same article stating that he "will choose "self check-out" most times to avoid a potential hold-up".  Etsy's check out process is not ideal, but it is certainly faster than waiting in line during the holiday rush.

According to Forrester Research, men "spend more, make fast decisions and as a group, tend not to return the stuff [they] don’t really want."³  That description of male customers is rather idyllic and gives me the impression that we should be trying our best to make sure that our shops appeal to our male shoppers, as well as, our fellow females.

Here are a few of the things that I believe will help:
  • Item titles that are straightforward and descriptive  
A male customer will understand "Tiffany blue Czech glass & sterling silver earrings" but might not understand if those earrings are titled "Audrey"

  • Describe items well and be sure to include measurements
We all know how deceptive macrophotography can be.   For my earrings, I even include photos taken with a ruler for those who need a visual size reference.

  • An orderly shop with shop sections that make shopping easier
I know that Etsy makes this one difficult.  I struggle to make my shop sections  work within the number limit that Etsy imposes.  Group by category or by type of materials.  This will help all your shoppers find what they are seeking.

  • Clearly mark all items that are not available for immediate shipping (made to order items) and label made to order items with their lead time so that customers will know how long before the items will ship.
A lot of men like to wait until almost the last minute and want rush shipping.  Made to order items will not typically appeal to those men.

  •  Consider offering gift wrapping in both all-occasion and seasonal (non-holiday specific) options.
Most of my male customers have specifically requested that their purchases be gift wrapped.  If they are on Etsy or another site known for handmade items, they may feel like they have already gone the distance and may want to save themselves the trouble of wrapping.

I'm sure that I have left out lots of ways that we can draw more male customers to our shops and welcome all your suggestions!  What other ways can we improve?


  1. Very good points. And interesting to note that apparently I shop like a man, LOL.

    The only other thing I can think of is a "reminder service". In one of my other sales jobs, we made it easier for men by getting a list of important dates (bdays, anniversary, etc) and emailed a reminder 2 weeks prior with a suggested gift. Glad I remembered this, will have to include it from now on. You can also have the women fill out their favorites and email the men about those.

    1. It's kind of funny that you'd mention that because I know that I definitely shop more like a man. I've never been able to do day-long shopping trips with groups of female friends. I research purchases at home, online, and then make what my husband calls "targeted strikes".

      I would love to have a "reminder service" and will definitely implement that when I eventually have my own website. With Etsy's rules about what constitutes "spam", I am not even going to risk it. Heaven forbid that we send a few emails to try to help our customers *spammer* when it's so much better to have a factory and sell fake handmade and just get re-classified as a "collective". Oh, those pesky rules...

    2. the more I hear about their rules, the more I consider switching where I list online. I never gave it a thought about thier spam rule. Hmmmmm, may have to consider a change of venue...

    3. I seriously cannot wait for the day that I can use my domain name for a real shop and not just this blog! But, I don't have a large enough following so, I must bide my time. Until then, I live vicariously though everyone else who takes the plunge and opens their own shops!

  2. Great discussion. Enjoyed it. I think men do like the ease of shopping online. How many have heard of any of the main handmade venues, I wonder.

    1. Thank you! My husband and I were just talking about how few men know about Etsy. Actually, very few of our friends--male or female--know about Etsy. I'm not sure how we're supposed to reach those people because Etsy isn't advertising and it's not easy to market individual shops to men. But, I'm definitely trying to figure out ways and I'll post any that I find actually work. ~Fingers crossed~

  3. I can assure you I've never bought an "Audrey" online either! After my first few customers were men, I concluded they were a main marketing target; some of them must know about Etsy, or else my nice clear titles are letting a few of them find me. (Amen.) I do think our items have to be fairly "typical" in that case, though--a S.O. or mother or whoever has told the male gift-giver, "I like lapis," for example;they probably don't send their honey out to find an asymmetrical necklace or lampwork bracelet! Also, I "spam" male friends/colleagues/etc. every chance I get (off Etsy, but including in person), especially by sharing photos. As for the size ref in photos, I also show a photo from normal distance--colors,too, look different in real life! Anyway, good luck with your own shop and thanks for dealing with "bread and butter" issues!

    1. My first online customer was male, too and all my larger orders were placed by men. I would love to follow your example of talking with male friends but, alas, they have wives and girl friends with very conventional tastes that are only satisfied with much higher tickets jewelry (diamonds & platinum).

      I think you're doing it right because you've already had male customers and your photos and descriptions are spot on. *Toasting with my mug of tea* Here's to us having a fabulous holiday season!