Do women refer more than men?
At RewardStream, we are always interested in how members of the referral programs that we operate for our clients behave. Ultimately, we’re interested in helping our clients acquire high lifetime value customers by getting their best customers to make referrals to their friends and family. Referrals are, after all, the best and most cost-effective way for you to attract new customers.
It is important to pinpoint which of your customers are most likely to make referrals. It is also important to encourage your best customers, the most loyal customers, who spend the most, return frequently, purchase multiple products, etc., to engage in the referral process. “Like attracts like” in referral programs, and if your best customers are making referrals, the new customers they drive to your business are likely to be “high value” as well.
But that’s not all there is to it. Sometimes your highest value customers are not the kind who will make referrals. So, if not these highest value customers, who is more likely to help boost your referral marketing efforts?
Which People Are Most Likely to Make Referrals?
We ran some surveys recently to learn more about consumer behavior when it came to making referrals, checking online reviews and recommendations for products, and making informed purchases as a result. Our results highlight interesting findings when it comes to who is making referrals and the impact this has for gender marketing strategies. Here’s what we found:
We asked: How important are online reviews to you when making purchase decisions?
More than 56% of respondents said that online reviews were important or very important to them, with fewer than 30% saying they were somewhat or totally unimportant; the remaining 12% indicating no preference. So roughly a 55:45 split slightly favouring online reviews.
There has been a long-standing but poorly documented belief in referral- and recommendation-marketing circles that women are more active than men when it comes to giving and acting upon referrals. Consequently, it was interesting to note that when we split the results along gender lines using Google Surveys’ inferred gender demographics, female respondents were indeed 13% more likely to believe online reviews are important (somewhat or very important) and 19% less likely to believe that online reviews are unimportant than their male counterparts.
These results indicate that women are more likely to consider online reviews when making purchases.
So then we got interested in asking about referral behavior more specifically: Are people making referrals? Are they getting referrals sent to them, and are they making purchase decisions as a result of these referrals? When came to asking about making referrals, respondents were split right down the middle.
We asked: Have you ever referred a friend to a product or service that they’ve subsequently purchased?
Roughly half the respondents said they had made referrals that resulted in a purchase, and half said that they had not. Now, I’m of the firm belief that when it comes to online behaviour, people who respond to Google Surveys like ours are exhibiting a self-selection bias that trends toward tech-savvy i.e. active online users who are more likely to engage in this type of social activity. As a result, I believe it’s possible that the “Yes” camp is slightly overrepresented. Nonetheless, even considering that, the figures are still much higher than we anticipated.
When we examine the potential for gender marketing strategies, the differences are significant again. Women are 25-30% more likely than men to have made referrals.
So what about those folks on the receiving end of referrals? When we asked whether or not people had ever purchased a product or service based upon the recommendation of a friend or family member, rather than being a 50:50 split, the numbers were staggering. It turns out that people LOVE getting referrals. They trust them, use them, and make their purchase decisions based upon them.
Again, when we explore these results based upon gender lines, women are far more likely to have made a purchase based upon these kinds of referrals than their male counterparts. This finding highlights the importance of gender marketing strategies in the referral space.
According to casual conversations I’ve had with my wife, and a handful of other female friends, this finding on gender marketing strategies comes as no surprise to them. Their feeling is that women are far more likely to refer their friends to products and services, to make purchases as a result of receiving such referrals and to leverage online reviews and recommendations when making purchases. When I asked why they thought this was so, answers varied. Generally, however, there is a belief that women are more socially generous when it comes to sharing purchase decisions, sharing positive and negative consumer experiences, sharing discounts and deals, and sharing product opinions.
What Do Gender Marketing Strategies Mean for Brands?
Brands have been targeting men and women differently for a long time. Marketing and sales initiatives have been carefully skewed to resonate with traditionally male or female gender roles for centuries. Nonetheless, it is clearly important to take these gender differences seriously when it comes to managing product reviews, recommendation engines, and referral marketing campaigns.
If women are more likely to consider reviews, make referrals, and make purchases as a result of referrals, it’s time to tune our marketing initiatives accordingly. It is time to segment our referral programs, and ensure we leverage the knowledge we have around gender marketing strategies to build more effective programs.
What Lessons Have We Learned from Our Survey?
Here’s what we learned after our initial analysis of these survey results:
- Referrals are important to people when it comes time to make a purchase decision.
- Too few people are actually making referrals that result in purchase decisions.
- Women seem to be more active than men.
In short, referrals are good and women are better at referring than men.
So how can you implement and tune your gender marketing strategies in the referral space to build better campaigns?
Stay tuned for our upcoming posts on this topic! We’ll be exploring how income and urban/suburban/rural residency can influence referrals, and we’ll be looking at the types of people who post online reviews. We’d love to hear more about what you’ve learned along the way as well. Please feel free to share this blog posts and send us your feedback via the comment section below.
1. I want to note that Google’s inferred gender sadly does not yet provide statistics for individuals who self-identify as genders other than male or female, and for this we apologize. We hope that our survey results can be more inclusive in the future.It’s also important to note that some research has reported that Google’s gender inference methods are accurate, while others have reported that they are quite inaccurate.