Victoria's Secret Uncovers Gender Buying Differences: Pricing and Sales Differ When Men Buy Gifts for Women

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It's no secret that many men are ill at ease shopping at Victoria's Secret, but is the lingerie retailer capitalizing on their discomfort?

According to a former Victoria's Secret sales associate interviewed by Business Insider, sales employees at a Chicago-area store have been trained to guide men, who are generally out of their element, to the most expensive items in the store. "The general feeling about men is that they would buy anything in order to get out of the store as quickly as possible," the anonymous worker told the publication. "That means they would spend more money."

The story would understandably leave many men wondering if they'd been unwittingly guided to buy high-priced items the last time they bought intimate apparel for the women in their lives. However, it's possible the sales associate had a fundamental misinterpretation of how men and women shop.

As it turns out, men don't quickly buy things because they're embarrassed, but because that's how they prefer shopping. A 2007 study by Wharton University, "He Buys, She Shops," found that loyalty for men was driven by just two factors: helpfulness of the employee and the ability to check out quickly. Women, on the other hand, become loyal through a "range of operational, consultative, and emotional factors," such as politeness and being familiar with a store.

Actual sales, according to Editd, a big data analytics company for the apparel industry, emphasize the differences between men and women during the Valentine's Day period. In February 2013, the average price of a sold-out garment, which represents the highest demand, was $28. During a normal month, the average was $34, according to data pulled by Editd's Senior Fashion and Retail Market Analyst Kate Smith. The presence of male shoppers appears to be driving down the price.

"Traditionally, the male shopper is a more price-savvy and cautious buyer," says Smith, who herself once worked for a lingerie company. …