Last year, age-old gender stereotypes on shopping were shattered when a study on worldwide shoppers revealed that men shop MORE than women online and offline.
They called it, “The Age of the Male Power Shopper,” which in itself sounds like a hyper-masculine super-hero — “Your friendly neighborhood Power Shopper — clearing store shelves nation-wide.”
In addition, studies that claim that men don’t buy eco because it’s too “feminine” are starting to become a thing of the past. Male shoppers worldwide are starting to embrace their own shopping power for good. In-fact, men are 52% more likely than women to say they care a lot about eco-conscious fashion, as well as spend more on their sustainable wardrobe.
If you own an eco-conscious business, you can’t ignore the fact that men are starting to embrace shopping – both online and offline, even in the eco space.
This is not to say that women still aren’t disproportionately responsible for shopping for the household. Plus, in certain locations like the UK, women are found to make more environmentally responsible decisions.
But, I would argue that the current and upcoming generation of male shoppers are starting to take more control over their own personal shopping habits. And they care just as much as their female counterparts about doing so ethically.
Michael Chappell, a 32-year old who worked in software development at Eco Desk, said he sees being eco-friendly as something that should be balanced across all genders.
“I don’t see eco as inherently feminine but I definitely see more women making conscious choices than men – something that saddens me,” Chappell told us. “I don’t see why any gender should be less eco than anyone else.”
Notably, studies on who the male green consumer vary as much as the weather changes.
Therefore, it’s important to do your own research and test your specific niche — especially when it comes to age.
Garik Himebaugh, stylist and founder of The Eco Stylist, a marketplace for ethical male fashion, said he personally sees evidence of consumers at all ages caring about sustainability.
“We’ve had customers who span the entire age range that care about sustainability,” he said. “But the data shows that Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to spend money on something sustainably made — correlating with a higher concern for climate change.”
Some important niches for male green consumers are technology, fashion, and anything health/hygiene. For example, hygienic technologies, particularly contactless activities such as food and grocery delivery and curbside pickup, are taking off.
Attracting the Male Green Consumer
1. Emphasize Durability and Practicality
Men put more emphasis on the functionality claims of green products/services as opposed to women, who are attracted to emotional and relationship-oriented messaging, according to MDPI.
For example, a man might buy a Patagonia fleece because of it’s pockets and durable zipper. while a woman might buy it for the feeling she gets when she sees the photo that reminds her how much she loves hiking.
Brands should obviously take this information with a grain of salt. The data overall shows that green consumers name quality/durability as one of their top reasons for making the purchase.
But there is some validity to green brands targeted at men exhibiting this practicality-focused marketing messaging.
Jack Daniel’s, for example, makes it a point to emphasize sustainability AND quality in their ads.
Chappell shared this sentiment, emphasizing that he would pay more for a sustainable product only if it proves to be durable.
“I’d prefer to buy one good thing that’ll last than something that’s just going to end up broken/unusable after a short while – even if that means paying more for it,” he said. “If the eco choice isn’t available then I reluctantly look elsewhere but only if I really need it.”
2.Focus on Convenience & Provide Guidance on How to Shop
While men are shopping more, women will still on average take longer to make a purchase. There’s many possible reasons for this, and confidence is one of them, according to Himebaugh.
“The male consumer wants more direction and guidance — what they don’t want is to browse 1,000 items,” he said. “They often have a lack of confidence in shopping for clothes which stems from a lack of positive experiences to reinforce. They don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping.”
Therefore, when creating a shopping experience for men, go the extra mile to empower them to feel confident in their buying decisions. Himebaugh does so by offering styling services and creating educational content.
“We try to make shopping easier for male consumers by posting a lot about making sustainable shopping easier – like ethical gift guides,” he said. “We listened to some of the things our customers were telling us and built out the platform with the idea of providing a higher level of service.”
Making the shopping experience convenient and providing support is one the best ways to empower your customer to make the decisions that are right for them.
“Too much of the cause-related-marketing … promote what the company is doing, rather than helping the consumer to make their own difference.”Forbes
3. Use Social Cred
Roughly 30% of men buy eco-conscious clothes because they want other people to know they care about the environment (versus 17% of women).
In addition, more men said they are motivated to buy eco-fashion because they like posting their looks on social media.
The fact that men care more about sharing their eco purchases than women is not necessarily a bad thing. Sharing helps spread the message of eco values, which can create a domino effect.
4. Remember, eco is more than saving trees
When communicating the eco aspects of your company, it’s important to note that eco is such a large field that encompasses more than just the physical aspects of the Earth. Sustainability inherently affects everything and everyone, involving social issues like diversity and human rights.
Telling your customers to save the planet’s trees or preserve wildlife may work for some. But for others, bringing the humanity into sustainability is what will convince them you’re the choice that shares their values.
Himebaugh for example, said The Eco Stylist focuses on the issues of human rights and equality in the fashion industry.
“Our customers feel strongly about human issues,” Himebaugh said. To my knowledge, men don’t see that as being feminine.”
So when thinking about your marketing messaging — be specific about your eco passion and initiatives.
Sustainability is NOT a woman’s issue – it’s a human issue.
Overall, we can’t ignore that women are leading the sustainability movement by a long-shot.
58% of sustainability executives in large companies are female.GreenBiz
Chances are, climate change, resource management, and human rights issues are already affecting you – no matter who you are. We all have a part to play in empowering our customers, colleagues, and ourselves to make a difference, regardless of gender.
Because sustainability is NOT a woman’s issue – it’s a human issue.