First Click: Hunters gather to shop the Amazon

August 10th, 2015

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Conventional wisdom suggests that men — which I am — don’t like to shop. An idea supported by anthropologists Kruger and Byker who, back in 2009, when “shopping” meant driving to a shopping center, published their research under the heady title “Evolved foraging psychology underlies sex differences in shopping experiences and behaviors.”

Here’s an excerpt:

"For the most part, contemporary stereotypes of women in modern industrial countries perceive women as enjoying shopping more than men. Our research provides evidence that this popular stereotype exists because most shopping activities have a greater similarity to women’s traditional activities of foraging and gathering than they do to men’s traditional activity of hunting. The results of our study show that shopping has significantly more in common with gathering than it does with hunting."

Bullshit, shopping is all about the hunt — at least when it comes to online shopping.

A lot has changed since the Kruger and Byker study. According to Comscore, digital commerce now accounts for $1 in every $7 of consumer discretionary spending in the US — double that of 2009. And depending upon which studies you believe, men are now spending more, or nearly as much of their time and money shopping online than women. Either way, it's roughly equal.

Back in the day, shopping for items like consumer electronics meant trudging to malls and walking store-to-store to compare features and prices. The work was tedious, scattershot, and based upon magazine reviews that were out-of-date by the time they were printed. I hated it.

Today I can buy items from the hunter’s blind of a laptop. Armed with real-time information and absolute focus, I creep up from behind with shopping apps to slay brands where they lie.

I love it (and sometimes I hate myself for it).

First, I stalk the product in promotional videos. Then, ever so carefully, I learn its weaknesses by reading everything I can:  professional reviews on sites like The Verge or Wirecutter, amateur reviews on Amazon, support forums, and comments in respective app stores. Finally, after traveling great distances across many megabytes, I track down the best price before pouncing with a click of the "buy" button.

And then comes the best part: the anticipation, watching updates as the quarry is delivered to its consumeristic fate.

As my friend, colleague, and fellow hunter Chris Ziegler once said:


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