bored man shopping

Even though I’m a woman, I have a man’s mindset when it comes to shopping. Most of the time, I loathe it – except when shopping for very specific leisure items – and count down the minutes until I can break for lunch. My heart pains for the lost and confused congregations of boyfriends and husbands eternally sitting on benches, or lone partners trailing the aisles while shooting longing glances towards the pub.

I empathise because of shared frustration for the same things: repetition, overwhelming variety of items that are 99% identical (yet different enough to merit consideration), and the sneaky feeling that something, or someone, is plotting against you ever leaving the store.

That feeling? Not only is it 100% accurate, but supported by clever marketers whose job it is to keep you wandering the racks for as long as possible. Those who joke about shopping being a woman’s sport don’t realise how correct they are. This reason alone is why men (and select group of ladies) hate shopping: it’s psychologically designed for women.

For example, it’s no accident that you have to walk halfway around a shop to find the lifts. The idea is that you’ll see more items while circumnavigating the floor, and be tempted to add more to your basket. Also, want to know why you’re sometimes handed carts as you pass though the entrance? It’s mental trickery: people are less likely to approach the checkout with a near-empty basket, and will throw in items they don’t even need to save embarrassment.

Right now, you men will be reading this and thinking, “Well, what’s embarrassing about that? Nothing.” And you’d be right. Common sense has no place in the world of retail, and for that reason, marketers will instead target the women in your lives in hopes of profit. (Seems incredibly sexist, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it comes down to wiring. Men are typically logical thinkers, whereas women are drawn more easily into the emotional side of things – practically fuel for retailers).

Want to feel a bit more tricked? Other marketing techniques include: placing major items and brands in the centre of aisles so that, no matter what direction you came from, you have to walk past the most amount of stuff to reach them (counteracting the men’s “boomerang” approach to buying); adding baby powder or the smell of baking bread into the air conditioning to reassure or stimulate shoppers; installing carpets and mirrors to slow traffic (playing on vanity); and initiating “closing down sales” when shops have no intention of closing down at all.

I say all of this not to depress, divide, or demean you. I merely intend to educate – knowledge is key to ending mass consumerism. Do it for the congregations of tired, hungry, bewildered, and forgotten male souls of the world’s shopping malls.