Researchers from Technical University of Munich and Copenhagen Business School published a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Psychology that provides fresh insights into how individual purchase decisions are influenced by the gender of the person producing the goods.
Nearly 100 million consumers bought handmade products on Etsy in 2021, reflecting consumers' preference for more personal and unique purchase experiences, according to the authors.
The researchers found that female consumers show a strong preference for goods made by women, while male consumers are neutral about the producer's gender.
Through a series of 13 studies, they also discovered that female consumers more strongly believe that their purchase decisions can contribute to restoring gender equality in business compared to their male counterparts. The authors call this tendency "action efficacy beliefs."
Further, their studies suggest that the more female consumers believe that women face gender discrimination in business and the more they want to act against it, the greater their preference for products made by women.
In fact, buying from a female producer matters more to women consumers than buying goods from a group of combined male and female producers whose revenues support a gender equality fund.
In addition, the team found female consumers' higher action efficacy beliefs drive their choice of women-made products more than their beliefs that those products reflect their own identity—a common motivator of purchasing behavior.
The desire to reduce social inequalities isn't enough to change behavior. "Consumers need to believe that their seemingly trivial individual actions can contribute to the cause," the authors write. "In this sense, consumers need to believe that their action counts."
The article offers potentially sales-boosting insights to women producers and online platform managers marketing handmade goods. Additionally, policymakers can leverage the findings to advance gender equity in business. ■