Profitable Times Newsletter

The Male Museum Store Customer

There is no single way to increase sales from your male museum visitors, so let's review a wide range of, what are admittedly, general possibilities.

What Works

Customer Experience

  • Staff product knowledge. Men often lack detailed knowledge of products and can be discouraged by too many undefined choices. The staff person with product and exhibit answers and focused recommendations will more easily make a connection.
  • After they feel comfortable with a store, especially the staff, men can be very loyal customers.
  • Use suggestive selling to promote gift cards. Cards work well for the male buyer and recipient.
  • Don't bother to ask if he needs help... assume he does and probably isn't going to ask, so initiate some no-pressure, informative interaction. "What was your favorite exhibit?" is a good example of a pro-active opening line that can be followed up with product recommendations.
  • Prior experience with a product has a strong influence on purchasing, so brand names and exhibit images that evoke familiarity will reduce buying resistance.
  • Men move more rapidly, ask fewer questions and make up their minds quickly. They really can be an efficient transaction.
  • Once they have made up their mind, men are less concerned about price. A range of price points, however, should be available.

Product Selection

  • Clean graphics have strong appeal in products and signage.
  • Sports, financial, electronic, gadget, nostalgia and transportation motifs are naturals. Bow ties are hot! This is one reason why, in my experience, stores in museums with related missions seem to do better with male visitors. Even if these areas are not part of the museum's mission, exhibits with these components can be highlighted in the store or used in merchandise displays.
  • In the home décor, desktop, tabletop and gift areas, function is preferred over decoration.
  • Leather, suede, wood grains and texture are popular components.
  • Humor.

Merchandising and Display

  • Merchandise male-oriented products at the front of the store. Women will readily walk through male-oriented products to get to their areas of interest, but men are far less likely to walk the entire store in search of something of interest. One exception may be books, which is often a natural draw for men.
  • Men are attracted to darker, richer colors, especially browns and earth tones, regardless of which colors are trendy at the moment. This applies to both merchandise and fixturing.
  • Helpful signage, that relieves men from having to ask questions or call attention to themselves.
  • Humor, again.
  • Build cross-merchandising displays that bring examples of multiple categories and exhibit examples from around the store to them.
  • Integrate audio and visual elements into the merchandising. Men can fairly easily be manipulated to stop, look and listen.
  • Does your museum have mission-related current events and sporting activities that are particularly popular with men? If so, recall those images in your merchandising and displays.
  • Merchandise gift certificates in with the male oriented products.
  • Men are harder to get to focus, so make your merchandising and displays visually compelling.
  • Men influence what women buy, and perhaps most importantly in this context, how long they stay in the store. An impatient male, perhaps negatively influenced by the factors below, will shorten the buying window. So, while marketing toward men will increase their purchases, keeping their interest will also allow other members of their party to linger longer and buy more.
  • Just like men don't know what to buy for women, many women don't know what to buy for men. By focusing the merchandising of a part of your store toward men, you will also be facilitating purchases for men by women.

What Doesn't Work

Many of the factors listed below also influence the buying patterns of women, but may more heavily impact men.

  • A store that is too warm. Men will simply leave a store that is too warm much more quickly than a store that is too cool — taking the rest of their group with them.
  • If your product selection includes items with a strong scent, merchandise them where the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) has a chance to dissipate the smell.
  • Crowded visitor, fixturing and merchandising conditions.
  • Long lines. Men may actually spend a reasonably long time in your store, but when they are ready to leave, THEY ARE READY TO LEAVE!
  • Poor signage, especially missing price tags, apparel sizing and provenance information- all of which requires the asking of questions.
  • Clutter.
  • Overly talkative and/or under-informed salespersons.

One last point. While women make approximately 70% of all retail purchases, men have access to a sizeable reserve of disposable income. The first step to making sales to male visitors is to believe there is a male market that is looking to buy. Men are already in your museum and store as the primary customer or accompanying partners, spouses, children, other family members and friends. Taking the time to stimulate their interest can lead to incremental sales.

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