You’re The One That I Want

14 Mar

Since the beginning of time, women and men have struggled to understand each other’s needs. Ok, fine, that’s dramatic- I have no idea if cavepeople had communication issues. But at least in modern times, pinpointing the exact differences between women and men is a complicated pursuit. Given that I am fascinated by communication styles, cultural differences AND consumer behavior, I found a recent Mashable article about female and male needs particularly compelling.

The article cited a study by NetBase, a social media monitoring company. Social media monitoring companies track what people say on sites like Facebook and Twitter to gather information about public opinion, consumer sentiment… basically, whatever you want to know about. And in this case, NetBase decided to look at phrases that start with “I want.” The company gathered a year’s worth of online chatter to figure out what women and men most desire (or at least what they will publicly admit to desiring). The results are pretty awesome! Turns out that men and women have the same top three “wants”- just in a different order. Both groups want pizza, ice cream and cars more than anything else, according to the internet. I guess I expected something different- I expected to see iPods and Gucci and general bling. Not because I don’t understand wanting ice cream or pizza; trust me, been there and done that many a time. But of all the things you could possibly talk about, it’s crazy to me that 80% of both top 10 lists were food products. I guess when it comes down to it, people revert to primal needs. Cars and phones DID make the top ten list, but cars are also a necessity for a lot of people, so it’s entirely possible people were writing about needing a functioning car, not a super-sweet ride.  I’ve noticed that some commentators online were hypothesizing that perhaps people feel inhibited from expressing their actual desires via social media and stick to non-offensive topics like food. It’s possible, I suppose. I certainly don’t turn to Facebook to express my ultimate wishes. But have you ever looked at what trends on Twitter? Or seen the TMI status updates that clutter Facebook? Those sorts of behaviors certainly don’t suggest fear of public announcements!

Delving into the brands that the sexes want is also pretty curious. Turns out there is a lot of overlap between the brands that men and women prefer. And I love that the report writers pointed out that women tend to “gush” while men tend to “talk” about things, highlighting the ways that men and women differ in how they express their thoughts. Probably my favorite insight of the entire report though is that men crave both generic bacon and Walmart bacon- both were on their top ten list!

I highly recommend that you check out the report, then check your social media feeds and see if you discover any “want” lines to do a comparison between the report results and your own network. In the meantime, must be off- I want pizza!

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