The Googlification of Shopping (And What To Do About It)

by · July 1, 20139 comments

I can count on one hand the number of times I personally have been grocery shopping in the last 10 years. It’s not that I am lazy or think it’s a woman’s job, but that my wife and I are incompatible in grocery stores. She likes to browse, saunter through the aisles, consider every possible coupon and price combination. I blow through the store with laser accuracy, getting every item on the list, only every item on the list and getting out as efficiently as possible. So we decided this was not something we could do together. And it’s something she enjoys. So I’m merely serving her preferences by steering clear.

For many men (like me), grocery shopping is an incredibly tedious experience. Whether you’re dealing with the lolly-gaggers who park their cart in front of the one item you need while they read labels, or the aisle blockers who either don’t know the keep right/pass left rule or completely screw things up by browsing the store backwards, there are exactly 67 billion things on earth to do that are a more effective use of your time.

For many women (like my wife), grocery shopping is about soaking it all in, reading every label and comparing prices on brands so you can save three cents. Its the experience, not the task, that is rewarding.

I’m quite certain this key difference in men and women is why God invented beer. That is an experience we men can appreciate on the same level.

So, for sake of argument — not gender role discussions — let’s say there’s a feminine way to shop (experiential) and a masculine way to shop (task-oriented). Using that logic, I would argue that Google has created a more masculine shopping bias in our world today. The search engine’s unique selling proposition upon launch was that it enabled people to find what they were looking for faster. No cart slaloms. No lolly-gaggers in the way. No comparison shopping. As long as you trusted Google, it gave you the best result first, and off you went.

Nowadays, shoppers have become accustomed to typing in what they want and getting relevant results first. Whether on Google or Yahoo, Amazon or CafePress, Facebook or Twitter, when we type something in the search box, we don’t want a long list of options. We want the answer. The right answer. Right then.

In essence, we have become masculine shoppers. In and out, get what’s on the list, nothing more, nothing less. We don’t want to be marketed to. We don’t want to be persuaded. We don’t even really want to know our options. We’re a smarter consumer, do our research first and are ready to buy, whether we’re looking for information or even consumer goods.

Certainly, there are still people who love to shop the feminine way. The only thing that is all or nothing in today’s world is nothing itself. But if masculinity is where the world is leaning because the tools we’re accustomed to have led us down that path, where does that leave femininity?

In social.

Social media is an imperative because you will never be top of mind with the active consumer until you’re top of mind with the passive one.

Social media — connecting with like-minded people to share experiences, give and take feedback, participate in both conversations and communities with purposes larger than your own — is where femininity comes into play. Here we take the time to discuss and analyze. We focus on learning, asking and answering questions. We peruse. We interact. We engage.

In social, the purpose is not generally to purchase something. It’s not a place where there is a hard, fast goal. It’s an environment that encourages lolly-gagging, label reading and comparison shopping. Here we get to consider. Here we get to browse. We have no deadlines. We have no agenda. We only want to participate, learn and grow.

And those who participate, learn and grow with us are the people, companies and brands we’ll trust when the time comes for us to turn on the masculine trait and get in and buy.

Social media is an imperative for companies today because you will never be top of mind with the active consumer until you’re top of mind with the passive one.

It’s not my fault. Blame Google.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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