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Where the Boys Aren't

July 23rd, 2010

Online fashion shopping has become a growing trend—and with sites like Gilt, Rue La La, and ideeli offering top brands and styles at extreme discounts (some as high as 80%), it’s tough not take a peek.

clip_image001Last year, Gilt.com generated $170 million in revenue, up from $25 million the previous year. While these web boutiques are flourishing with women shoppers, they’ve got their sights set on reeling in a relatively untapped market: men.

Yesterday’s WSJ.com article “Wanted: Guy Shoppers for Fashion Sites,” pointed to the sites’ recent push to grow the male demographic, one that is proving to be somewhat of a challenge.  Last year, a survey found that only 27.6% of adult male respondents said they regularly purchase products online. They also spend 19% less time shopping online compared to their female counterparts.  And when it comes to the quick deal, men are a third less likely to go on a shopping spree. The stats reaffirm one notion—when it comes to retail, men just shop differently.

So why bother with the boys?  Well, it all comes down to the dollar.  Women may buy more, but the men who are shopping tend to spend more. These companies are also trying to cater to men’s affinity for the ease and speed of online shopping.

And the competitive twist doesn’t hurt either.

clip_image002From sports gear sales to “men-only” separate sites, the shopping boutiques are firing away any and all ideas to see what sticks. Will it be through courting fashion niches or appealing to a wide range of men?  Will customer service be a targeted effort?  What roadblocks will arise—perhaps the back and forth of shipping, or lack of instant gratification attained at a brick and mortar?  While the successful mix remains to be seen, it will undoubtedly be one that piques curiosity, makes the task fast and easy and creates pull. The competition is on and it will be a race to see which marketing attempt (if any) will come out on top.

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