It Is A Matter Of Trust

How profound are the differences between the sexes when it comes to product discovery, advertising consumption and in-store decision-making? We developed a series of Omnibus research surveys to discover any potential gender “gaps.”

Distrust and skepticism quickly emerged as a dominant theme. 

Men have a tendency to be more watchful and mistrustful; they are less trusting of advertising in general, and are skeptical of comparative advertising, “awards” and expert or scientific endorsements. They don’t like online corporate spooks with many claiming to check their cookie settings regularly to ward off invasive advertisers. 

Men are somewhat more likely to check online reviews than women (52% to 47%), but are then less likely to believe that those reviews can affect their purchase decision (68% to 72%). 

We asked men and women about the advertising channels most likely to influence purchase consideration for different categories of products. Although many of the gender differences are likely driven by the degree of interest each side might have in the product –women claimed to be more influenced by ads for beauty products and jewelry, men by by car and financial services ads – there were some notable differences across the categories. 



Men seem to be most susceptible to entertainment, computer and electronics, and car ads, in general, with around a third of men surveyed claiming to be influenced by TV advertising for those categories. 

Although TV advertising and print ads were believed to be the strongest influencers for purchase in every category, men believed that digital advertising was a strong influencer for computers and electronics (27%), entertainment (27%) and clothing (21%). Even digital car ads were considered an influencer for 18%.

Email was generally seen as less of an influencer apart from a few notable categories. 12% of men were open to messaging in computer & electronics emails, 9% in both the travel and Entertainment sectors. 

Despite the preponderance of financial direct mail only 8% of men thought it an influencer, compared to TV ads (19%). 

Online research and comparison sites again showed some differences. Men and women seem equally likely to use online comparison sites (25% men to 27% women) but there was a wide disparity when it came to general pre-purchase fact-finding. Men are most likely to consistently (“always or often”) engage in online or in-store research before purchasing computers & electronics (48%), cars (38%) and appliances (35%). Although many women seem to put in the time for appliance (35%) and computer (39%) purchases, significantly fewer consistently researched products before purchase. 

  • Trust in advertising: 47% of men generally trust advertisements compared to 53% of more trusting women. 61% of men would like stronger requirements for proving ad claims compared to 55% of women
  • Scientists and experts: Brands using testimonials from scientists or experts may find themselves competing with the primary household expert –the male consumer. 35% of men compared to 22% of women are lesslikely to believe ads using expert testimonials.
  • Comparative advertising: Comparing your brand to a named competitor does not fly well with men. 29% of men are less likely to believe the claims compared to 24% of women.
  • Cookie settings: 34% of men compared to 22% of women claim to change their cookie settings to prevent companies from using the information to advertise to them. 
  • Online coupons: Women (30%) still outrank men (23%) for frequent online coupon usage, and are more dedicated users with 12% claiming to always search coupons before a purchase compared to only 6% of men.
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