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It is a popular belief that women are the ones who are ‘born to shop’. But are they? 

It may come as a surprise to many of us but futurefact finds that it is South African men (who we stereotypically tend to associate with beer and sport rather than shopping) who appear to be the more brand and status conscious and less price conscious.

Our menfolk may not be quite as confident as they make out. 55% of men compared with 49% of women are worried about making the right impression and need the prop that brands supply. This rises to 58% and 59% respectively among men from LSMs 9-10 and those aged 15-24.  Men are also more likely to believe that brands reflect who they are ­– to the extent that they also say that they will not use a brand or service that doesn’t ‘speak’ to them, even if it suits their needs in other ways. They are also more likely to be attracted by expensive ‘designer clothes’ than women. Do men feel that wearing conspicuous labels that are instantly recognised and admired by their peers will add to their prestige and standing? Using brands to reflect who you are to gain acceptance is no simple matter. It requires users to study and understand brands in order to make the choices that will enable successful positioning within the chosen target market – in this instance friends, potential friends (or spouses), work colleagues etc.


So what about women? They appear to be somewhat less brand conscious than men. Dare we say that they appear to be the more responsible? The more sensible? The more pragmatic? They are the ones asking whether they really need something before buying it. They are the ones who compare food prices in adverts before they go shopping, who know how to work out a household budget and who always try to shop where they know prices are cheapest. They are also more likely to belong to customer loyalty programmes which reward customers for their support.


When it comes to health and fitness, the results are more predictable. Men are more likely to exercise regularly: going to gym, playing sport, going to fitness classes. Women are the ones who are more likely to chasing the ‘weight demon’ and say that they are always on diet or trying different diets as well as vitamin supplements and various health foods.


Both men and women say that their home is a major source of happiness. Where women (especially older women and those from high LSMs) are more inclined to find happiness in their children, family and through religion and spirituality, men derive satisfaction and happiness from work and the pursuit of their careers – however, the wheel is turning here as young women are more career focused and more likely to equate work with happiness than do young men. Neither men nor women believe that money and wealth are major sources of happiness (though men are more inclined believe that they would be happier if they were richer).

So who is the more romantic? Who is more inclined to believe that happiness comes from a good relationship with their partner? The answer… men.

So it isn’t only peacocks who dress up to attract and impress their potential mates, human males may be more like swans who also try to keep them.


futurefact has been surveying the attitudes and beliefs of South Africans since 1998. The findings presented above are from futurefact 2012 which is based on a probability sample of 2,946 adults aged 15 years and over, living in communities of more than 500 people throughout South Africa representing 21.6 million adults. futurefact 2013 is in field based on a sample of 3,000. 

If you would like to find out more about futurefact and its extensive attitudinal databases please contact Jos Kuper 082 904 9939 or check out www.futurefact.co.za 

Published in The Media, 2013