Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Attitudes toward Coupon Use and Bargain Hunting: An Examination of Differences by Gender

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Attitudes toward Coupon Use and Bargain Hunting: An Examination of Differences by Gender

Article excerpt


The conclusion of several major studies of male shopping behavior in the past decade is that males have become more active in the marketplace, are not understood, and are largely underserved (Bakewell & Mitchell, 2004; Harmon & Hill, 2003; Otnes & McGrath, 2001). A study reported in DSN Retailing Today (Duff 2003) found males responsible for about 54% of household shopping, with younger males more likely to share the responsibility than older men.

Harmon and Hill (2003) suggest that changes in the role of males in the marketplace are largely due to major demographics shifts in the U.S. Many boys today experience a different gender socialization process than their predecessors. Specifically, the increase in single-parent households and single person households due to divorce and due to an increase in the average age of first marriages, has contributed to the changing role of males in the household and the marketplace. Bates and Gentry (1994), for example, found that children were treated more as equals and given more household responsibilities in single-parent households, while Twiggs et al. (1999) hypothesized that males coming from single-parent households are probably more likely to move through "gendered hierarchies" to more strongly held beliefs in gender role equality. This study has as its objective the investigation of whether possible gender differences in attitudes toward behaviors such as coupon use and bargain hunting are based on age or cohort group.


While few studies have focused on male shopping behavior (Bakewell & Mitchell, 2004; Dholakia, 1999; Hermann, 1998; Campbell, 1997; Reid & Brown, 1996), and even fewer on gender differences in bargain-related behavior (Harmon & Hill, 2003; Mittal, 1994), all concluded that males view shopping less positively and exhibit different shopping styles. For example, males have historically considered shopping as a utilitarian activity, driven by the need to purchase, while females have viewed it as more inherently enjoyable (Campbell, 1997). Hermann (1998) hypothesized that males shop to achieve more "masculine" goals such as bargaining to gain status, success, and power.

It might be that whether or not one uses coupons depends simply on the amount and requirements of coupon savings as suggested by Dholakia et al. (1995). However, several researchers (Ashworth et al., 2005; Babakus et al., 1988) believe price savings to be only one reason for coupon use, with the marketing literature largely concurring that psychological factors may also motivate bargain-related behavior. A similar gender dichotomy seems to apply to bargain-related shopping behavior as it does to shopping behavior in general. An NCH/Nu World Marketing study (1999) supported by the work of Mittal (1994) found males use coupons for different reasons than females. These studies suggest "enjoyment" is the best predictor of attitudes toward coupon use. The meaning of "enjoyment," however, possibly differs between the sexes. For men, in an instrumental role, enjoyment might result from having "earned" a price advantage or from an ego boost as males feel they have "beaten the system." For females in the nurturing role, the use of coupons might encompass better care of the family.

Ashworth et al. (2005) looked at the conflict that often occurs between the psychological and price rewards of coupon use and the social costs resulting from appearing "cheap" to others. These researchers found that although an individual who uses coupons to save money perceives him or herself as a "smart shopper," that same individual might also hold a negative self-perception, one of being a "cheap shopper." The results of the study also suggest that the size of the savings cannot negate the "cheap shopper" perception. Other studies (Huff & Alden, 1998; Dhar & Hoch, 1996) support this contention.

The ambiguity surrounding the issue of gender differences in bargain-related shopping behavior, particularly coupon use, begs for a more thorough investigation. …

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