Who is companies’ new customer in the Internet era?

Written by Linnea Nyberg

Gender marketing online using Glossybox as an example


The Internet era has changed the climate for both individuals and businesses. To be successful, a company needs a thought strategy for their online actions. This strategy should preferably be built upon existing knowledge about the specific industry and its characteristics. By segmenting the customers by their behaviour, a company can gain important insights that can help them creating a successful strategy. One possible method to segment a company’s customer is by gender. The existing differences between the sexes are old science, but because of the profound Internet usage these differences have evolved and nowadays also affect the customers’ online behaviour. There are many researchers proving significant differences in female and male behaviour online. The conducted studies in this area suggest that these differences need to be acknowledged, understood and adapted by companies to effectively retain and attract consumers.

“The same mode of communication may be perceived differently by the sexes, suggesting that more favorable communications environments might be created, environments that take into account ”…” the gender of users.” (Gefen & Straub 1997, p. 3)

The aim of this paper is to deepen the readers’ knowledge about the existing gender differences in online behaviour. This will be done using a case company named Glossybox. Glossybox provides consumers with a subscription of beauty products from famous brands and has until now only targeted women. In March 2013, a box directed to men will be released, which creates a need for a strategy regarding this customer segment. (Glossybox) Even though many researchers have investigated the area of gender marketing online, there are very few studies applying these findings on a case company. By using a case company, the goal of this paper is to be able to answer questions regarding how and why online gender marketing works, and how this can be related to the case of Glossybox. Therefore, this paper aims to contribute to the field of study by offering a practical implication of the recent studies. This paper will investigate who Glossybox new customers are. Who is the male online shopper, what differs him from the women in terms of shopping behaviour and preferences? How could Glossybox benefit from this information? I will start by describing the importance of online marketing and the existing relevant literature about gender behaviour online to later be able to connect this to Glossybox.

To summarize, the purpose of this paper is to investigate who the new male customer of Glossybox is and what differs him from the existing female customers. The question is therefore;

- How should the different genders be handled in a beauty product company online?


The theory chapter aims to develop the readers’ understanding of existing relevant literature. This will create an understanding that will guide the following discussion chapter. 


By understanding motives and characteristics of a company’s customer segments, important knowledge can be gained (Aljukhadar & Senecal, 2011). This knowledge regards the consumers’ usage of Internet to a large extent, especially in the current days of Web 2.0. Further, companies can attract and retain consumers by understanding their online behavior (Hasan, 2010). Moreover, customer segmentation helps a company to define the target group’s characteristics. One segmentation strategy that a company can use to create a strategic advantage is segmentation regarding the customers’ usage of Internet (Aljukhadar & Senecal 2011). To make this distinction even more clear, the gender factor can be applied. Many earlier researchers have shown that females and males use Internet differently (Garbarino & Strahilevitz, 2004; Kehoe, Pitkow & Morton 1997). Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that investigating the differences between male and female online patterns can provide useful information for a company to optimize their performance. 

Research shows that men are being more positive to engaging in online shopping than women are (Rodgers & Harris, 2003; Hasan, 2010). This is explained by many coexisting factors; female Internet users tend to show higher computer anxiety than men (Gefen & Straub, 1997), women perceive greater risks with online purchases than men (Garbarino & Strahilevitz, 2004; Byrnes, Miller & Schafer, 1999), women spend in general less time online (Hasan, 2010; Kehoe et.al. 1997) and lastly that women enjoy the social aspects of traditional shopping experience in a greater extent than men do (Hasan, 2010).

On the other hand, there is also research that shows no prof of gender differences regarding Internet shopping behaviour. A study by Scarpi (2012) explains that the level of hedonism and utilitarianism is determining the online shopping patterns of consumers. The findings of the study show that the more enjoyment an individual finds in the usage of Internet, the more likely this person is to shop online. The researcher did not find any significant difference between female and male persons’ level of hedonism and utilitarianism regarding online behaviour. (Scarpi, 2012) This could be seen as opposing to the earlier mentioned research, even though these arguments are met with opinions that gender differences in online shopping behaviour could exist due to other reasons than the level of hedonism and utilitarianism.

Furthermore, there has been research conducted regarding gender behavioral differences in the industry of beauty products online. The findings from this research suggest that “online vendors offer better prices on male cosmetic products or offer different discount methods to make male consumers more likely to shop online” (Liu, Lin, Lee & Deng, 2012 p. 2). Further, the same research showed that male consumers are more aware of the brand’s reputation than female consumers. The authors therefore suggest a steady brand building strategy to create trust of the male consumers. (Liu et.al. 2012)

Moreover, there are many constructive implications and suggestions regarding how gender marketing should be facilitated. One of these findings indicates that more visual descriptions are beneficial for male consumers and more verbal for females. This has genetic explanations of the brains construction. (Rodgers & Harris, 2003) 

Word of mouth

Many researchers reach the same conclusion regarding a consumer’s most trustable source for information regarding a product or a service; the other consumers, in other words the individual’s peers (Armelli & Villanueva, 2011; Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011). The author Chrisodoulides (2009) agree with above mentioned suggesting that consumers of the Web 2.0 prefer to receive information from other consumers rather than companies (Chrisodoulides, 2009). A consumer’s research for information regarding products and services is facilitated through the existence of Internet and social media. Consumers often evaluate brands, products and services online, in blogs for example. These evaluations will influence other consumers’ perception about the discussed brand, a fact that gives the consumers an active role in the company’s branding and storytelling process (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012) and shifts the power balance, giving more power to consumer. Therefore, in today’s environment, branding is about “facilitating conversations around the brand” (Chrisodoulides, 2009 p. 142). 

The effects of word of mouth can also be related to the gender issue. Conducted studies indicate that a recommendation from a friend is more important for female consumers than male. This is explained by word of mouth reducing the perceived risk that that women tend to feel towards online purchase, which in turn enhances the likelihood of women shopping on the Internet. (Garbarino & Strahilevitz, 2004)

Choosing the right forums

According to previous conducted research, the decision of which online forums a company should be present within is important. It is not possible for a company to be present everywhere, therefore the company carefully has to choose where to exist. (Hanna et.al. 2011) One of the reasons for the importance of this decision is the fact that forums vary in effectiveness depending on factors such as target group and message. Also, certain individuals have the power to influence and affect other consumers more than other individuals. (Liu-Thompkins & Rogerson, 2012)

Brand strengthening online

Brand awareness is an important key objective for social media. This since every time the brand is mentioned in a blog or on YouTube, the brand is exposed and therefore the associations towards the brand are strengthen. The customers’ engagement can be seen in blog posts, comments, registration on web site or likes on Facebook for example. (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010)

Empirical example - Glossybox


Glossybox is a company conducting their business online and has existed in Sweden since December 2011. Because of their online business, both existing researchers and the company perceive the online marketing as more important than the traditional marketing. Glossybox has chosen five social media forums to be present within; Facebook, Twitter, Pinetrest, YouTube and Instagram. Further, the company has collaborations with famous Swedish bloggers such as Petra Tungården (who created a box), Pernilla Wahlgren and Blondinbella. These collaborations with bloggers are likely to increase the trust of the female consumers because of the earlier described effects of word of mouth.


There is no question about the fact that Glossybox should acknowledge the gender question. There are proven differences between male and female behavior online, these should be understood in order to successfully be able to create a suiting strategy for the new group of consumers; the males.

According to the literature, Glossybox could possibly benefit from having more visual descriptions of the products but also the entire website for men compared to women.

One question that Glossybox has to consider is how many (if any) new social media forums that the company should participate in. The theory emphasizes the importance of choosing the most effective channels. To be present in too many channels is not effective, the challenge is therefore to be selective. Since word of mouth is not as important for men as for women, Glossybox could possibly focus more on the brand enhancement of the products in the box than being present in blogs. If marketing for the male target group will be conducted through blogs, the choice of these is important since, as the theory proves, different blogs reach different amounts of people. Men are more aware of brands than women are when it comes to beauty products, a finding that Glossybox could benefit from. By offering established brands with stable reputation, the chance for attracting male consumer might increase. Another possibility is to target women for the Manbox in the belief that they will introduce the service to their partner, brother or friend. In this case, the blogs are still a relevant choice since this applies for women.


The literature agrees on the existence of different behavior for male and female consumers online. By putting these findings in a context of a relevant company, the understanding for the practical implications can be facilitated. To segment the customers regarding their gender and by this gain knowledge about their online behavior is extra relevant for the company Glossybox. From having only women as a target group to extend the company’s offering to subscriptions for men as well indicates the need for a new marketing strategy.

In this paper, one of the goals was to identify the new male customer of Glossybox and analyze his behaviour online. The reviewed literature suggest the male consumer being more concerned about the brand itself rather than caring about word of mouth from social media. These preferences further indicate suggestions for actions that a company in Glossybox situation can introduce to be able to maximize the benefit from this new customer segment. One concrete possibility would be for Glossybox to increase the visual effects on the webpage.




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