Gender Commerce. Past development and new technologies in online marketing to influence customers' buying behavior

Bachelor Thesis, 2017

70 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents






3.4.1 SEO
3.4.5 ECRM







Teaser - Giving a short introduction

Gender marketing as a new holistic marketing approach has been intensely discussed over the last couple of years. At the first glance it can surely appear discriminating to differentiate customers by gender, but the genuine intention of gender marketing is to accept and appreciate both genders as they are and develop products according to their gender specific needs. Therefore, it is important to un- derstand that by talking about gender it does not imply talking about fixed roles of males and females in society. Those roles have change significantly over the last decades and are expected to continue changing over upcoming years. It rather means taking gender specific needs, wishes and characteris- tics in consideration while developing products and company strategies in order to achieve long-term success and customer loyalty.

But why is this even relevant? Women have been buying products anyway, right? Certainly, women have been buying products without a gender specific approach already. However, the truth is that our markets are saturated and the flood of information customers are confronted with everyday exceeds their cognitive ability. This itself shows the importance of tailoring products as well as communica- tion strategies to customers’ needs. Additionally, as mentioned above, social statuses of men and women have been changing continuously. As a result of women’s access to higher education, better careers and with that higher incomes independence of women has enhanced over time. Even if women already have a strong purchasing power, it has not reached its full potential, yet. What also comes along with being independent and earning own money, is making own decisions. Women and men differ in their general decision making process and buying behavior. Thinking of women already buying products, which do not perfectly fit their needs, in an environment (either offline or online) they do not feel completely comfortable in, it can lead to an enormous competitive advantage to adjust product and selling strategies to your customers’ needs.

Transferring this to e-commerce and buying behavior online, there are significant differences between male and female throughout the decision making process. It already starts with keywords both gender enter in the search engine. While men tend to keep it simply, women are more likely to use long tail keyword combinations. Due to the lower search volume those keywords are usually cheaper than general keywords. Adjusting companies’ bidding behavior accordingly, can lead to better targeting and lower costs at probably higher reach, if the saved money is spent on a larger variety of long tail keywords. Furthermore, the general searching behavior differs regarding the effort that is invested to search for a specific product. Women usually invest more time and effort during the searching process than men, meaning that they screen multiple websites and make a decision according to usability, aesthetics and content of the website. On the contrary, men usually choose the first website, which sells the specific product they are searching for. Hence, it might be more effective to place higher bid for men than for women in order to realize a better search engine ranking.

This is just one example how gender marketing can be incorporated in the general marketing strategy. There are multiple ways companies can benefit from gender marketing aspects. For instance women usually perceive shopping more as a leisure activity than as an obligation. They appreciate the expe- rience of touching and smelling a product and tend to combine it with taking care of their relation- ships. Due to time restrictions, women nowadays are somehow compelled to transfer their shopping online, because it is more time efficient. Not only does this improve online sales, it also gives the opportunity to develop a completely new competitive advantage by transferring women’s need for a good shopping experience online.

Additional to the analysis of online buying behavior, this bachelor thesis also provides a study on payment behavior in terms of the Pay-What-You-Want pricing model. The study does not only show the willingness to pay for different products, it also shows which aspects are important in order to realize a higher willingness to pay.

To conclude this very brief summary, it has to be emphasized that even if the analysis of women’s needs dominates current studies in gender marketing, the final aim is to identify perfect products and strategies for both genders. The current domination of women studies results from the perception that former products have mainly been oriented and related to men’s needs. Men studies are obviously catching up and are incorporated in marketing activities as well.

List of Figures

Figure 1: Characteristics of Diversity Management, following Kreienkamp, 2009,

Figure 2: Communication in Social e-Commerce following Richter, Koch & Krisch,

Figure 3: Overall Buying Decision Process, following Olbrich, Schultz & Holsing,

Figure 4: Comparison of the number of social media users according to the platforms in Germany(Construktiv, 2016; SMI, 2016; Statista, 2016)

Figure 5: Relevant Phases of Customer Behavior in Mobile Commerce following Rowles,

Figure 6: Options of price differentiation following Skiera & Spann, 2002,

Figure 7: Online consumer behavior, following Laudon & Traver, 2012,

List of Tables

Table 1: Age distribution

Table 2: Income per age - women

Table 3: Income per age - men

Table 4: Experience with PWYW per age

Table 5: Experience with PWYW summarized

Table 6: Chosen attribute combinations relating PWYW - men

Table 7: Chosen attribute combination relating PWYW - women

Table 8: Preferred payment method of men and women

Table 9: Reasons for choosing these payment methods - women

Table 10: Percentage distribution of those, who use this payment method on a regular basis -women

Table 11: Reasons for choosing a different payment method than usual

Table 12: Reasons for choosing these payment methods - men

Table 13: Percentage distribution of those, who use those who use these payment methods on a regular basis - men

Table 14: Reasons for choosing a different payment method than usually - men

Table 15: Criteria influencing purchase decision - men and women

Table 16: Criteria influencing purchase decision - men

Table 17: Criteria influencing purchase decision - men with an income lower than 2500€

Table 18: Criteria influencing purchase decision - men with an income higher than 2500€

Table 19: Criteria influencing purchase decision - women

Table 20: Criteria influencing purchase decision - women with an income lower than 2500€ 58 Table 21: Criteria influencing purchase decision - women with an icome higher than 2500€

Table 22: Technical affinity

Table 23: Money spend on online services within the last year

Table 24: Preference for a PWYW pricing model for online software

Table 25: Regression trial week

Table 26: Comparison average willingness to pay with or withou a trial week

Table 27: Regression reference price

Table 28: Comparison average willingness to pay with or without a reference price

Table 29: Regression relating to a friend

Table 30: Comparison average willingness to pay with or without relating to a friend

Table 31: Regression indirect reference price

Table 32: Comparison average willingness to pay with or without an indirect reference price

Table 33: Regression objective results

Table 34: Comaprison average willlingness to pay with or without providing the user with objective results

Table 35: Percentage distribution paying nothing within the scenarios

Table 36: Income distribution of those who considered paying nothing

Table 37: Effect of anonymity on paying nothing

Table 38: Usage of internal reference prices

List of Abbreviations

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1 Introduction

In 2015, 29 billion Euro were spent on advertising in Germany, thereof 11 billion Euro online (SevenOne Media, 2015, p. 2). General market conditions within Germany are highly competitive due the mature market. This forces companies to specify their target group and address them with target-oriented promotion and products. One target group, whose value for the economy has been increasing slowly and very quietly, are women. Social changes favored this development for women, which results in higher independence, higher income, better education and, thus, better chances to have a career. All that resulted in an increased social status. Their increased social status as well as differences in buying behavior, either offline or online, product evaluation, loyalty or different prod- uct requirements of men and women, make gender marketing very attractive and relevant for every company’s marketing strategy.

Another development that has taken place over the last decades is the enhanced importance of internet in every day life combined with the establishment of e-commerce. The online environment, especially since web 2.0, provides companies with great features for customer targeting as well as many ways for interaction with their customers, including them into their business processes. As there have al- ready been differences in the buying behavior, there are also differences in the internet usage of men and women. It can result in different types of websites, an enhanced usability or simply the purpose of using online services in general. In addition to that, women have not reached their full potential relating to internet usage, yet. Thus, internet usage is continuously increasing and catching up to the internet usage of men (D21 Initiative e.V., 2015, p. 30), but share of women’s purchases of the overall market is already higher than for men (women 53,4%, men 46,6%; BEVH-Services GmbH (secondary literature), 2014 quotes in: Jaffé, 2014, p. 156). With an expected enhancement of women’s purchase power in the upcoming years, caused by an increase of the employment rate of women during the last decades, it can be expected that women will increase their online expenditure (Statitisches Bundesamt, 2016, p. 356).

A combination of those two areas offers a completely new perspective for companies’ current mar- keting strategies as well as their possibilities and ways for improvement. Hence, the focus of this bachelor thesis will be on the combination of those two areas. In order to give a general understanding of gender commerce, the first section will be about gender commerce itself and its impact on different marketing areas. It will be explained, how gender commerce and the general view on gender has developed over the last decades. After that, e-commerce and its different areas will be described briefly. After the short introduction of e-commerce, I will move on to online specifications and online specific tools. Usually, there are various ways of implementing a gender specific marketing strategy within available tools. If there are any ways of taking advantage of gender marketing, it will be explained in this section.

Since this bachelor thesis also includes a short study, the following section will provide further infor- mation for the final study including customer’s buying behavior and gender specific differences. Cus- tomer buying behavior covers the whole buying process from research of possible alternatives to the final purchase. This also includes pricing, but since pricing according to gender is seen very critically and can be seen as discrimination of men or women, this study concentrates on the willingness to pay in terms of the pricing model “Pay-What-You-Want” (PWYW). The study will on the one hand focus on general differences in the perception of PWYW and on the other hand assume differences in the willingness to pay by interspersing gender specific signal words. PWYW as a pricing model attracts more and more interest of e-commerce companies selling online services. E-commerce with its pay- ment requisites constitutes the perfect environment for this pricing method and enables companies to implement this pricing model easily. It is therefore interesting how the actual perception and use of both genders looks like.

It is also important to mention that some gender specific behaviors can be interpreted as stereotypes. If so, talking about those stereotypes does not connate any positive or negative sentiment. Breaking customer’s behavior down to stereotypes, can in some cases help to simplify the process. However, the underlying studies do focus on gender specific behavior, which have been a result of their re- search. But this does not mean that all men or women behave like this. This factor will play an im- portant role in the evaluation of gender commerce in the end. Lastly, many authors of the related literature advise, that by not focusing on gender differences companies might exclude one part of the society, having a high influence on marketing success as well as strong loyalty. (Jaffé, 2005, pp. 58- 59)

2 Gender Marketing

Social and economic changes challenge businesses every day. Over the last decades some of those changes firstly favored gender studies to establish in the university until it finally found its way to businesses as a new marketing strategy called gender marketing. In the following, gender marketing and its approach will be defined and ways of implementing it into the business strategy will be explained. It will also be explained which social changes in Germany favored this development and what general aspects limit the suitability of this approach.

2.1 Definition of Gender Marketing

To understand the full scope of gender marketing, a few terms have to be defined and differentiated. One of the most confusing terms is the word gender itself. Gender is not only the differentiation between male and female as the biological sex. Instead, it incorporates the social status of both sexes, which is influenced inter alia by education, age, family status, income situation as well as career aspects. Changes have been considerably for both sexes during the last decades, resulting in a change of roles, especially for women. Since this is an ongoing process, change is expected to continue. Before the women’s movement, talking about the different sexes stood for talking about fixed roles, characteristics and images the society had in mind and both sexes had to adapt. Breaking up this way of thinking in fixed roles and the enhanced social status of women, gives the possibility to understand the similarities and differences of both genders. (Kreienkamp, 2009, pp. 12-15) Due to these differences there has to be a distinction between male and female, but it is important to understand that in this context this does not mean to reflect those two in social stereotype or how the society sees them. It rather involves an understanding of gender specific needs and requirements, which might change again in course of time. (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 16)

Hence, gender marketing is seen as a holistic marketing approach that focuses on customer needs, whether they are male or female. The differing customer needs between male and female arise from biological, hormonal and social differences that need varying concepts in order to achieve long-term success. Even if there are campaigns focusing on short-term results, the main focus of gender mar- keting is to understand the customer with all their needs as well as dissatisfaction and to find solutions targeting for customer satisfaction and loyalty. (Jaffé & Riedel, 2011, pp. 26-27) Gender marketing therefore can be implemented in every area of the four P’s of marketing, namely product, price, pro- motion and placement (Opresnik & Rennhak, 2016, p. 27). Beginning with the product, research found out, that women pay more attention to aesthetics or any other emotional criteria, while men focus on objective performance measures. (Barletta, 2006, p. 161 et seqq.) In addition to that, there can also be price related differences, leading to price differentiation due to varying willingness’s to pay or further offering of payment methods due to higher security demand of women. (Halfmann, 2014, p. 20; Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 167) Continuing with placement and promotion, depending on how the promotion is designed, where it is placed and where the product is placed, sales and image will be influenced with a varying effect on men and women. Those aspects will be further discussed in section 3.4 (Kreienkamp, 2009, pp. 119-120, 130 et seqq.). Additionally, even if men and women buy the same product, their decision-making behavior and their way towards consumption varies in many aspects (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 15). Factors like emotions, personal appreciation and patience during the buying process play an important role and are relevant approaches for gender marketing (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 43). Recent studies go even further, saying that not only customer’s gender but also gender of brands, products, sellers and communication are relevant as well (Jaffé, 2014, p. 25).

Since gender marketing is one form of target group marketing it is also important to briefly describe what target group marketing is about. Traditional marketing tools have high scatter losses (Kreienkamp, 2009, pp. 42-43) and saying it in the words of John Wanamaker: “ Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don ’ t know which half ” . Target group marketing therefore means to segment a market into relevant groups according to demographic, psychographic, social or geographic structures that are as homogenous as possible within the group, but the groups themselves should differ as much as possible (Auer, et al., 1989, p. 15). One major risk in market segmentation and identifying the right target group is over-segmentation. Even if a small target group might fit your product/company perfectly, it might not be profitable to serve this target group. Keep- ing that in mind, it is important to find characteristics that cover a large group, but are significant enough to form a target group. Gender, as a characteristic, fulfills this requirement (Jaffé, 2005, p. 32).

Despite that, gender marketing does not necessarily represent the optimal marketing strategy. Depending on product category, target group and market environment diversity management might be a preferable alternative (Jaffé, 2014, p. 36). Diversity management is an effective management tool that manages social varieties and enables companies to handle those varieties regarding personnel, marketing, product development and sales. In order to visualize those characteristic, they will be displayed in the following figure:

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Figure 1: Characteristics of Diversity Management, following Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 10

All mentioned characteristics have a mutual dependence and have to be considered equally to create an appropriate marketing approach. As one can see in the illustration this also includes gender, leading to many people consider diversity management and gender marketing as equal. One major difference is that diversity management does not allow to select within the characteristics and to only pay atten- tion to those that are evaluated as relevant for the campaign. As opposed to gender marketing, which allows to focus on many characteristics as long as gender is superior. Examples of target groups or areas where gender marketing is not the optimal solution are products for homosexual or transgender people as well as markets with significant cultural variety. (Jaffé & Riedel, 2011, pp. 30-31)

2.2 Historical Background and Past Development

Since gender means the social status of male and female, first studies on gender, especially focusing on women, were made when the social fabric started changing due to the second women’s movement in 1970 (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 20). But it would take another seven years till women’s rights became stronger and they were allowed to work regardless if were married or not. By that time, it was still impossible for a woman to work if her husband did not want her to do so1. It was also still a man’s task to take care of the family’s finances, which is a determinant factor. The more women are em- ployed in total, earning their own money and manage their own finances, the more they will purchase products intending to satisfy their own needs. That was the point, when they were recognized as serious market participants and a serious target group (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 16-17). Between 1960- 1970 gender and women studies were also established in universities (Pilcher & Whelehan, 2004, p. X). Those studies focused on inequalities regarding personal relationships and social positioning. Until then gender had been ignored and women’s experiences and interests had been excluded from sciences. So that developing a new discipline in university strengthened their position in society as well. (Pilcher & Whelehan, 2004, pp. IX-X) By the time criticism occurred that also men are “gen- dered beings” and in 1990 the first books of men studies were published. (Pilcher & Whelehan, 2004, p. XI)

The change in women’s social status can also be visualized by analyzing the change of advertisement in general. A very common example for advertising before the women’s movement is the TV-spot from Persil (a German detergent producer) in 1956. The TV-spot shows a married couple in a restaurant when the husband spills food on the tablecloth. The woman is embarrassed, but the waiter only says that she does not have to worry about it, because they use Persil. The spot ends with the man degrading his wife by saying that smart people use Persil and thereby indicating that his wife may not be smart enough to use Persil. (Henkel KGaA, 2006)

Since that, messages delivered by advertising campaigns have changed a lot and especially within the last years more and more companies incorporate to strengthen women’s position in society within their marketing campaigns. For example, Dove (a producer of drugstore products) has started multiple campaigns improving the body image of women (Unilever Deutschland GmbH , 2017) and Always (a producer of sanitary towels) started the campaign “Like a girl” improving self-confidence of girls during puberty regarding athletic activities (Procter & Gamble Service GmbH , 2016).

Accordingly, advertisement for male products started to rearrange the way men are represented in media, too. Men are no longer represented as pure dominant, like they had been within the before mentioned Persil TV-spot. In the current Axe (a deodorant producer for men) spot men are depicted with all their edges, flaws and extraordinary characteristics (AXE, 2016). This shows the importance for men to know that they do not have to be a perfect womanizer as well as women do not have to have a specific shape to be attractive (Unilever Deutschland GmbH , 2017). Hornbach (a Do-It-Your- self store located in Germany) in 2013 also showed a different aspect of men, by emphasizing the value of a father-son-relationship stressing the emotional side of men (Hornbach, 2013).

Finally, changes in market environment explain why segmentation and target group marketing gained importance over the last decades. Those changes include the development from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market - also taking place from 1960-1970 - resulting in a more competitive environment. Nowadays consumers are able to choose between a large range of products, which are very similar regarding functions and quality. In course of this development companies started to design brands that embody a specific image and for that give consumers a reason to buy the product. For many years this has been a successful strategy and it is still very important to build a strong brand. (Meffert, Burmann, & Kors, 2002, p. 18-19) But current developments show, that all customers’ needs are covered with a large variety of products. All products being launched mostly are not entirely innova- tive, meaning that they only cover another small requirement, solve a little problem or simply are a small improvement compared to the previous version. (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 28) This is why it is necessary to find the target group for which those small changes are relevant. But also technological progress and improvement started influencing the market. Consumers are confronted with multiple devices and channels all containing messages and information from companies trying to influence buying behavior. The massive amount of information available exceeds the cognitive ability of the customer’s majority, leading to a switch from rational advertisement to emotional advertisement by companies on the one hand and a more focused target group related presentation of information on the other hand. To ensure that the information is relevant for the target group companies must have a deep knowledge about their target group. This includes inter alia demographical characteristics, gen- eral interests as well as (buying) behavior enabling companies to choose channels, time, environment and messages that fit consumer’s personality and behavior. (Scheier & Held, 2007, p. 31)

3 Rise of E-Commerce

In this section e-commerce and its past development will be described. The increase in importance of the internet also led to new opportunities for companies and their respective marketing strategy. Therefore, selected relevant online marketing tools will be described. Whenever there is a way to incorporate gender marketing into online marketing or online tools help to refine the online marketing strategy, possible strategies and research in the regarding the topic will be mentioned.

3.1 Definitions, Past Development and Trends

Amazon is the largest online retailer in Germany and therefore directly linked to e-commerce within people’s mind (Statista, 2015b). What people do not know is that e-commerce contains much more than just selling and buying products online. This only represents the pure financial transaction of a large value-adding process. For example, this also includes customer requests, giving further infor- mation and online support (Chaffey, 2007, p. 8), resulting in a complete process of initiation, negoti- ation and execution of the transactions based on the internet. Prerequisite for e-commerce is that a contract is concluded in this process (Clement, et al., 1999, p. 5), since the focus of e-commerce is to transfer value across organizational boundaries. In some literature, e-commerce is also differentiated from e-business by transferring values across organizational boundaries, being the decisive factor. Laudon and Traver describe e-business as “digital enabling of transactions and processes within the firm”, but the e-business infrastructure provides support for e-commerce exchanges. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 49) They also describe the following eight unique features of e-commerce. First of all, e-commerce enabled customer to use online services and to make purchases online without being restricted by time and place (1) (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 51). For example, with the increased importance of women’s careers and the accompanying restriction in time, women changed their pref- erence away from shopping as an end in itself towards efficient and convenient online shopping (Jaffé, 2014, p. 156). On a global basis (2) people are able to communicate and interact with each other and also with respective companies offering products. But this is only possible, because every nation uses one universal technology (3) when it comes to internet. Additionally, e-commerce en- hanced the information richness available for the customer (4). People do not have to miss the face- to-face advice from local stores. There are multiple ways to gather information online like chatting with the online support, reading references or even asked questions in communities. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 53-54) An example for such a community is the online community “www.victo-” by Procter&Gamble (P&G), a corporate group holding multiple brands mostly within drug- store consumer goods (Procter & Gamble Service GmbH, 2017). The community includes product placement, but also useful information for a variety of topics and community members can exchange about products and topics. This community is focusing on women in the age of 50 years and older, because P&G found out that especially women in this age value online communities more than younger women do. According to P&G they have more time, since they do not have to take care of their children anymore and more important they are more likely to communicate due to higher appre- ciation of the exchange with other women. (Kostyra, 2016) This also leads to another point: the in- teractivity (5). Whether customers interact with the company or with other customers they can always ask for help or share their experience. Furthermore, e-commerce helped to increase information den- sity, leading to enhancing quality, lowering costs and more abundant data that can be processed and providing companies with additional useful data (6). The collected information can help the compa- nies to identify their target group and later on target their customers individually with relevant infor- mation and offers, increasing the possibility of additional purchases per customer (7). Lastly social networks have taken an important role in e-commerce. In social networks users are able to create and share content. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 54-55) Interactive online marketing campaigns that involve the users are usually successful. An example for this thesis is the “Mein Burger”-campaign from McDonalds (a fast food franchise company), where customers were able to create their own burger (Hofer, 2012).

Social networks are also part of social e-commerce, being established after technological evolution to web 2.0. The internet initially started with an unidirectional way of communication. In the so called web 1.0 the focus lays in selling and buying products. Companies created information online without the intention of communication with consumers. (Richter, et al., 2007, p. 3) In 2007 new technologies enabled social e-commerce and web 2.0. Internet users were now able to create their own content and to share it with other users. Examples for those technologies are twitter, YouTube and other social networks, which will be analyzed more detailed in section 3.4.6 Social Media Marketing and Influ- encer (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 55-56). The most important part for businesses is the increased power and influence of consumers on the company’s reputation. Since then, users and customers were able to distribute their opinion about a product or a company’s service, either in references on selling websites or on social media as well as their own websites. Hence, many companies are consumer- oriented with the overall aim to comply with consumers’ needs. The communication between com- panies and consumers can be schematically illustrated with figure 2. Instead of solely giving infor- mation about the product itself, companies receive feedback and customer requests. Additionally, potential customers can be positively influenced within their decision process by incorporating refer- ences of other users. (Richter, et al., 2007, p. 5)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Communication in Social e-Commerce following Richter, Koch & Krisch, p. 4

Furthermore, the newest development in e-commerce is mobile commerce (m-commerce). M-com- merce includes the usages of mobile networks and mobile devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops. This enables consumers to execute transactions without restriction in time and place. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 60)

Finally, it has to be noted that there are other intentions of e-commerce besides selling products online. There are also service-oriented websites, which do sell their products, but the main intention is to provide consumers with information about the product regardless whether they want to buy it online or offline. Targeting for a trustful and deeper relationship between the consumer and the com- pany. Another orientation of e-commerce sites is brand-building. The only intention is to create an amazing user experience for the customer and with that improve the brands image. (Chaffey, et al., 2008, pp. 22-23) An example for that is the website of Coca Cola (a producer of beverages), which has the intention of interacting with its consumers since there is no online-shop. Moreover, can web- site visitors experience the strived brand image and inform themselves about the variety of products (Coca Cola, 2017). The last category includes portals. Those e-commerce businesses do not even sell any products; they provide information about a specific topic or a range of topics and refer to other sides (for example: price comparison websites). Usually, they generate revenues by commission, ad- vertising or selling data (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 340).

3.2 Definition and Difficulties of Online Marketing

Online marketing, as an element of e-commerce, is an essential key factor to success. It sometimes can be mistaken with internet marketing, but those terms can be clearly differentiated. Internet mar- keting includes all marketing activities that use internet services like the worldwide web, email and FTP to create a website for the company. Therefore, it is one component of the company’s marketing mix. Whereas online marketing focuses on activities leading customers or visitors to the website for initiating purchases. This can also include offline activities, like sending coupons for the website. Internet marketing is an essential part of online marketing, since it is responsible for the online presence and with that a component of online marketing as well, but both categories focus on different activities. (Lammenett, 2014, p. 26) A big advantage of online marketing is the interactivity that allows companies to interact with there customers and react to events online whether it is positive or negative. (Warschburger & Jost , 2001, p. 6)

Since the online environment differs from the offline environment also customer’s behavior differs a lot. In the early days of e-commerce customers solely searched for the big players online, benefitting from not being restricted by time and place. But in course of the evolution of e-commerce the online market became very transparent, since consumers are able to compare prices and features of any online shop they want. The interest in price comparison also led to the development of price comparison websites. This simplifies the decision process of the consumers even more. Additionally, the interactivity, as already mentioned above, affects consumer’s decision process by providing them with further information as well as references from other customers. Combined, all these aspects underline the increased power of consumers and emphasize how consumer driven the online buying process is. (Olbrich, Schultz, & Holsing, 2015, p. 19-20)

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Figure 3: Overall Buying Decision Process, following Olbrich, Schultz & Holsing, p. 21

For producer all kinds of problems can occur during the above shown overall buying decision process. By developing new products, the producer has to ensure that the potential consumers are aware of the need this product satisfies. Due to the highly competitive market it is very important for the producer to attain the consumer’s selection in following steps. There are multiple supporting tools, dealing with this part of the process. Those will be explained more detailed in section 3.4. Before the final purchase decision an additional step can be included. Since producers do not only distribute their products via own online shops, but also via several distributors having their own online shop. There- fore, it might be important to be listed at the most popular ones. But this depends on the product and whether the product serves a niche or mass. After managing all these steps, the last challenge in online marketing is to enlarge and sustain customers’ loyalty. Due to globalization and liberalization it can be observed that customer’s loyalty has been decreasing over the last years. Consumers have various options online, being attracted inter alia by coupons for many online shops and trying to find the best deal possible. Thus, companies changed their orientation away from being product orientated to con- sumer orientated and are trying to involve individual consumer wishes (Meier & Stormer , 2005, pp. 157-158).

3.3 Demographic internet user data

Prior to developing an online marketing strategy, companies have to find out who their customer audience is and develop their respective strategy accordingly.

About 78% (54,23 million) of German population older than 14 years uses internet on a regular basis. It can be observed that younger population is more likely to use mobile devices for internet usage than older generations (AGOF e.V., 2016, p. 3). Even if the growth population using internet daily has been stagnating over the last years (Koch & Frees, 2016, p. 420), the time spent online and by that also the intensity of the usage increased. An average person in the age of 14-29 spends about 245 minutes online with men spending more time online than women (Koch & Frees, 2016, p. 421).

66,1% of internet users are employed and 20,7% are unemployed or retired. The rest is still undergoing training. It is also observable that those households with a net income over 2000 Euro per month are more likely to use the internet than those with lower income. The share of internet users among educational levels do not differ much and are located around 30%. (AGOF e.V., 2016, pp. 5-6) Looking at the sexes, internet usage is very similar and about 50% of the overall population for both male and female (AGOF e.V., 2016, p. 5).

It can also be observed that by the increase of internet usage and intensity, the usage of traditional media decreases. Furthermore, consumers tend to use two or more devices at the same time. For example, watching TV and at the same time texting on the phone while writing an essay on their laptop. This results in increasing ignorance regarding companies’ advertisements and more effort is required to draw and sustain consumer’s attention. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 392-393)

3.4 Online Marketing Tools

There are several marketing tools online, targeting to improve sales and performance both online and offline. In the following subsection those tools, their requirements, usage and implications for gender marketing will be analyzed. Some might be more relevant for online gender marketing than others, but the utility will be described for each tool.

Google, as the main online search engine, plays an important role, since its market share in Germany is about 95% (Statista, 2016b). Google also developed specific tools to simplify online advertising for companies. As they are accordingly the most relevant provider, the following analysis will be based on their specific solution within separate tools.

3.4.1 SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are company’s activities to achieve a higher page rank organically in search engines and therefore aim for long-term success. Those activities can be separated in offsite and onsite optimization, whereas onsite includes any measure on the website (e.g. keyword place- ment) and offsite any measure on other websites (e.g. backlink strategy). (Lammenett, 2014, pp. 164, 174) Optimizing the website takes time and manpower, but there are no direct costs as long as it is done without external consultants. It is a decisive tool for improving sales and acquiring new custom- ers. Customers must be able to recognize a company and its products for including it into the purchase decision process, otherwise further marketing activities have to be included to generate new sales (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 519-520). Being ranked at least on the first 3 pages increases the chance of being found by customers, since many users inform themselves about specific products online, regardless if they want to buy it online or offline, especially when it comes to electronic devices. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 480-481)

It is important to know that every search engine has its own algorithm to present the most appropriate and relevant websites on their search engine result pages (SERP) to their users (Olbrich, et al., 2015, p. 125). Additionally, google changes its algorithm on a regular basis, since many websites try to figure out what is rewarded or punished by the algorithm and modify their website accordingly (Lammenett, 2014, pp. 158-159).

Even if the algorithm differs across search engines, there are general steps that have to be followed for being listed on one of the first pages independent from the used search engine:

Firstly, the website should be registered on every search engine possible. Secondly, since it is about searching for information online, it is important to insert relevant keywords on the pages, making sure that every page only covers one topic at a time. For example, google keyword planner helps finding out which keywords are searched frequently in the same context and, hence, are relevant for users. Using those keywords very often in the texts online increases keyword density. Ideally, the main keyword is also used in title and subtitles. Keywords can be also placed in meta keyword tags and meta description tags to further increase keyword density. Those keywords can only be seen in the HTML-code but not in the browser interface. (Lammenett, 2014, p. 181) Thirdly, it is not suffi- cient to produce qualitative content. It is necessary that other websites refer to that content and with that generate backlinks, indicating the algorithm that the website is relevant for other people. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 520)

The main problem for companies and at the same time the main goal for google algorithm developers is that the algorithm and its composition is very in-transparent, especially by adding the regular up- dates. This makes search results reliable but for companies very hard to be ranked on the relevant pages. A very common strategy is to combine SEO with content marketing and create a guidebook online, providing consumers with useful information. For example, if a company sells dried fruits only it might be a good idea to provide consumers with additional recipes or with additional infor- mation about health benefits in order to increase relevance. (Odden, 2012, pp. 54-55)

3.4.2 Search Engine Advertising

In contrast to SEO, Search Engine Advertising (SEA) stands for the paid search results (e.g. the top google results before the organic results). It is also known as sponsored links or sponsored search, meaning that companies have to pay for being listed at the top area. The benefit of this tool is that companies can reach out to potential consumers who already showed their interest and involvement by doing research about it. This is the reason why this tool very effectively increases a companies’ sales, scope and customer acquisition quote. (Lammenett, 2014, pp. 124-125)

There are two types of SEA: Keyword search advertising and content search advertising. Keyword search advertising includes all advertisement placements within the search engine according to the entered keyword. (Olbrich, et al., 2015, p. 77) For the merchant the whole process starts with deciding which keywords match their product and website followed by developing campaigns accordingly. In order to find matching keywords it is recommendable to use online tools like the “Google Keyword Planer”, because entering a general keyword enables merchants to see, which keywords are entered in the same context. Furthermore, the average search volume, cost per click (CPC) and competition is displayed to determine, which keywords are the most profitable for the aim of the campaign. (Lammenett, 2014, pp. 137-138) For example, if keywords are very competitive and the CPC corre- spondingly very high, it can be profitable to choose very specific or longtail keywords (combination of keywords), which usually have a lower CPC and still lead to the same result for the company (Lammenett, 2014, p. 164). According to the overall aim of the campaign and the keywords, the final step of the preparation now is to create search campaigns with the search engine specific tool (e.g. Google AdWords). In this step the merchant can already narrow the target group down by adjusting the local area where the advertisement should be broadcasted as well as the identified interests of a consumer. But more importantly, in this step, it will be decided how much the merchant is willing to pay for a keyword. Since search engines only have limited placements, leading to general a shortage for companies, they developed a bidding process in which will be decided whether and where ads will be placed. If none of their created ads earns placements during the bidding process, an increase of the bid for the keyword is necessary. (Lammenett, 2014, p. 147pp)

To show the utility for gender marketing former studies on boys and girls in the sixth grade had the result that boys use less keywords than girls researching about a specific topic. Using this for SEA, it could be beneficial to bid on a variety of longtail keywords in case the majority of customers are female and also the target group is female. (Large, et al., 2002, p. 434) Longtail keywords usually have lower CPC and by that can possibly increase profit, but it always depends on the business area and if the company is serving a niche or mass. (Lammenett, 2014, p. 164) Men are also known as quick buyers, who usually do not research a lot online or offline before making a purchase. It then might be beneficial to invest more in the bids for male consumers and therefore being listed in the top area as this might lead to a final sale more easily. Women might research on multiple websites anyway and multiple companies will be included into the purchase decision process. (Jaffé, 2014, p. 86) In the end for women other factors like website usability and plain information might be more decisive than being listed at the top area. In comparison to men, women’s searching behavior tends to be much more impatient. Whenever women do not find what they are searching for immediately, they switch to another website. Saying that it is much more important to connect keywords to the final lading page to present relevant content according to the keyword. (Kreienkamp, 2009, p. 166)

Content Search Advertising on the other hand focuses on placing advertisements on websites, with the context matching the product. A very common example for that is placing an advertisement of a cruise next to an article or experience report relating to cruises. Websites that want to display the ads have to join advertising networks where the keyword related ads are distributed across the websites. The regarding tool for the search engine Google that is used by ad publisher is AdSense. It ensures that the displayed ads are relevant and appropriate for the surrounding content. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 481)

Since none of the participants (merchant and publisher) can influence the ad placement it is difficult to name the usage for gender marketing. But contextual advertising is also based on keywords and because of that choosing keywords very precisely can help being placed in not only the right context but also being more close to the target. For example, instead of only using the keyword “shoes”, it is recommendable if the target group are women to use the keywords “high heels”, “shoes for women”, etc. to ensure that it is only displayed in a referring context. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 481-482)

3.4.3 Display Advertising

Display advertising is kind of the online billboard advertising. Those displays are placed around a website’s content or they are designed as pop-ups which can either pop up in a separate window or simply on the current screen. Usually, they show a promotional message and by clicking on it the user is directly led on the advertiser’s website. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, p. 474) On the one hand this increases interactivity and the consumer is able to choose which ad he wants to click on, but on the other hand clicking on those ads interrupts the consumer’s current activity and because of that the click-through-rate for display advertising is very low. (Olbrich, et al., 2015, p. 58) Major aim of display advertisement is branding, since the customer has no marked interest like in SEA, display advertisement therefore rather focuses on drawing consumer’s attention to the brand and overall prod- uct. (Olbrich, et al., 2015, pp. 52-53) Additionally, many consumers are blunted to display ads or advertisement overall and need effort to pay attention towards the displayed ad. For that reason, pub- lisher developed pop-up ads, which have been mentioned before, but many consumers have a negative sentiment towards those ads and experience them as distracting and annoying. (Laudon & Traver, 2012, pp. 475-476)

Furthermore, a current trend leads to animation and video advertisement. 43% of men and 29% of women think that video advertisement is more interesting than static displays, but the acceptance of this form of advertisement depends on the length and displayed content. 54% in the age of 18-30 watch video advertisement as long as it matches the content of the website and 46% of women as well as 36% of men think that a video ad should not be longer than 10 seconds. (pwc, 2013, pp. 5-7)


1 §1356 BGB says in the from 1958 till 1977 valid version, that it is the responsibility of the woman to take care of the household. As long as she is able to take care of her family and marriage she is allowed to work.

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Gender Commerce. Past development and new technologies in online marketing to influence customers' buying behavior
University of Frankfurt (Main)
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gender commerce, e-commerce, gender specific marketing
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Viviane Dorp (Author), 2017, Gender Commerce. Past development and new technologies in online marketing to influence customers' buying behavior, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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