The other day I stumbled upon a forum about Etsy and men. The forum was started by a male seller interested in determining the number of other male sellers there were on Etsy. The forum thread died pretty quickly, which may demonstrate that there are not many men selling on Etsy, or maybe they just don’t use the forum feature.
Since I joined Etsy I have thought long and hard about why men don’t use Etsy much. There are many shops that are operated by men, but many of them disguise that they are male. In general, Etsy is a woman’s sphere, but this shopping is on the Internet. Anyone can shop on Etsy and when they buy something no one will know that they bought it on Etsy. Shopping online is very different than being caught by a friend in a girly shop like Claire’s or Michaels. I have thought about this phenomenon some more and I have a couple of theories.
Men Don’t Know Etsy Exists
In general men don’t know that Etsy exists. When I tell people that I sell jewelry online if I am around younger women they will know about Etsy. Most of the time men have no idea what I am taking about and are surprised that it exists. Even then the few men that do know about Etsy usually know about it because they sell handmade goods, their girlfriend told them about it, or they are in the online business world.
How are sellers expected to attract male customers on Etsy if most men have no clue about what it is? This ignorance is compounded by the fact that Etsy does most of its marketing to women, such as, comments about Etsy on women dominated shows like Opera, Martha Stewart and The View. Since many of the sellers on Etsy are women, they market to their social circle, which usually are mostly women.
The Myth that Etsy Doesn’t Sell Things That Most Men Purchase
Many men that I know think that Etsy sells things that men don’t want. There is some truth about this. The majority of products on Etsy are geared towards women and girls. However, there are many things sold on Etsy that men would purchase. I have seen great t-shirts, belt buckles and ties for sale on Etsy that I know men would like.
The issue of men not shopping on Etsy is two fold and steams from the same reason. First, most men are not casual shoppers. They want to find something, buy it and leave. Men tend to research products on their own before going into a store. They don’t like to browse many different shops or items before deciding. Etsy encourages the browsing method of shopping that women tend to enjoy more then men.
Second, the Etsy search engine does not make direct shopping easy. For a newcomer to Etsy the search engine is a bit complicated to use. In addition, and perhaps even worst, Etsy is not accurate and many men may be quickly turned away. When I typed in the word “tie” a man’s tie as an item did not appear till the 6th result on the default settings. Then when I added the word necktie, still under the default setting, adult men’s ties did not appear till the 7th result and on the entire first page of results there were only 3 adult men’s ties in total. If I was a guy looking for a quick necktie these search results would turn me away fast and make me believe Etsy didn’t sell things I wanted.
Men Won’t Brag to Their Friends they Bought it on Etsy
Etsy really has grown by word of mouth. A shopping forum that only a few years ago was unknown is quickly becoming a huge name in the world of women’s shopping. Etsy has grown because women will mention to their friend that they found an item or bought it on Etsy. Many times they might not remember the sellers name but they will promote the site as a whole, which is good.
Because men don’t know about Etsy widely and because it does have a girly reputation men won’t brag to their friends that they bought something from Etsy. That means other men don’t learn about Etsy or discover the fact that Etsy sells things that men like. I only have heard a guy brag about Etsy when he claimed his wife found something for him on Etsy.
That is Something my Wife/Girl Friend/Sister Likes
This reluctance to shop on Etsy is because it is a women’s sphere. Like roller derby men don’t want to intrude too much into that world. This is a place that belongs to women and if they go to this place there could be two results. First, their female partner or friends might get angry with them because they are violating their space.
Second, the guy who buys from Etsy and brags about it might be teased by his friends for shopping from a girl’s store. This would discourage guys from going there in the first place, even if they can do it stealthily from their home computer. Men don’t want to run the risk that they might get caught.
Buy Gifts from Etsy
I think a solution is to encourage men to buy gifts from Etsy for women. This way their manhood stays intact and they can spend money on Etsy. As I explained to one of my guy friends “Do you want to spend all day walking around shops or would rather sit in your home look at your GF’s Etsy favorites and easily buy something from that?”
My friend quickly did what I recommended. Hopefully, once the guy gets used to shopping on Etsy he will expand his purchases there. It would be helpful if Etsy tried to target the new feature on the bottom of the page to more items for male customers in order to encourage them to shop. For example, ties and men’s clothing could be sent to “my items I may like” and then I might buy one. Instead of now this link primarily refers me to jewelry because I sell jewelry. I look at other jewelry but I never buy it.
Getting more men to shop for anything other then a big boy toy can be difficult. I think the key way to get men to shop at Etsy more is show them how it can save them time and direct them to items that they want for someone else. Then they will hopefully hang around and spend more money on themselves and create more customers in general for Etsy.
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