Men aren't buying cake. Why?
Women LOVE cake. I mean, I know we're not supposed to generalise, but as generalisations go, that's a fairly safe one. My clients love cake. My Facebook followers love cake. And they are nearly ALL women. Here I attempt to understand why this might be, and think of ways I can make it easier and more likely for the other 50% of the population to buy my cakes! (Right: mmm... cake.)
Less than 3% of my clients are male
2.9% of my customer base so far is male. 97.1% is female. Just FIVE men have ordered from me in the last 2 years. And I'm curious as to why, when women like cake so much, men aren't buying it for them. After all, a lot of men have wives, daughters, sisters and female friends they love, and generally want to make them happy. They flounder for ideas for birthdays and Christmas, yet never turn to a bespoke cake maker like myself for a solution. I got to wondering why.
Women buy cake for women
If I receive an order for a man who is turning 50, for example, it'll be a woman ordering for him; his wife/partner or daughter, most of the time. If I receive an order for a female 50th birthday cake, guess what - it's STILL a woman ordering - generally a daughter or sister. Are the men delegating this job? Or, as I think is more likely, is it just women who tend to put the cake on the to do list and tick it off?
WHY AREN'T MEN BUYING THE CAKE?
I've come up with a few reasons I think might be responsible for this tragic lack of sweet treat purchasing by the less fair sex. (Left: one of only two celebration cakes that have been ordered from me by a man.)
Men think it's too complicated (and maybe a teensy bit scary)
Let's face it, walking into a shop, buying a product off the shelf and taking it home is easy. So is visiting a website, clicking a few times and then getting a package through your door. Messaging an actual person (me), agreeing on a suitable design which hasn't been invented yet, deciding on flavours and decoration, number of portions and then worst of all, having to leave the house and pick it up from said person at their house, is NOT.
Men think it's too expensive
I find, when discussing prices with my friends and family, that often it's my male acquaintances who are most shocked at the true cost of a cake. Women tend to be a bit more savvy about what goes into handcrafted items, probably because they are more used to buying artisan items in general (80% of Etsy customers are women, for example). So when a guy can walk into ASDA and get a box of chocolates for £4 (and those are the nice ones), why would he order an £80 cake off me when it's just sugar, eggs and flour? (Incidentally read this to find out why he should anyway.)
Men like gifts that you can't eat (or wear)
I'll be frank. I can blether on about making a memory etc. etc., but cake gets eaten. Usually quite quickly. That beautiful creation is reduced to a pile of crumbs, and although there are certain sugarcraft items you can keep for years, the cake itself is made to be consumed. And men seem to like buying items that last a bit longer than that. According to this article by PaymentSense, men say their most costly online purchase in the last 6 months was between $1,000 and $2,500 - compared to between $100 and $500 for women. That's nearly TEN TIMES what women are spending on goods online, and the rest of the article goes on to show this tends to be on computers or technology-related purchases. Things that don't get eaten or worn, basically.
SO HOW DO I GET MEN TO BUY CAKE?
Women like cake, and would love their male relatives to buy it for them. I see the tags that happen on my page, and hear the hints dropped, with no resulting purchases! After mulling it over and discussing it with my own resident man, I've got a few ideas.
Less choice, more ease
I'm going to introduce more 'standardised' options for men to simply choose from, rather than face the overwhelming idea of an infinity of bespoke designs. Male customers who have ordered from me have
mostly chosen seasonal boxes of macarons or cupcakes. There isn't much choice, there's a box filled with x y and z flavours and they simply tell me they want to buy it. I think a macaron 'Box of the Month' may help drive more male purchases. Perhaps some standardised birthday cake or anniversary cake options would also help with that.
Offer delivery as an option
Men do tend to work longer hours than women, so aside from the uncomfortable idea of coming to a stranger's house to pick up the cake, it's hard for them to sneak out unnoticed and keep a cakey present a surprise. If I offered delivery as part of my service, at a cost that was made clear, this may help.
Explain why it's worth the effort, time and cost
The very reasons men may think it's too hard to order a bespoke bake are the same reasons why the recipients appreciate them so much. Essentially, you get out what you put in and more effort = more satisfaction. Yes, it may seem a bit of a stretch to have to think about portions, flavours, and designs, but that's what makes an individually designed cake such a special and joy-giving product.
Make it clear I do the hard work so you don't have to
On the other hand, the point of me is to take this task off your hands so you don't have to worry about the cake. I design for you, I give you options yes, but I'm more than happy to have relatively free reign if you give me a vague brief. I'm also happy to work to stricter guidelines. I'm not scary, and I'm more than happy to help. I need to think about how I can convey this more to attract more clients who are put off by bespoke ordering in general, and not just men.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Are you a man? Do you buy cake for your female relatives? If not, what's stopping you? If you're female, what do you think would encourage a male customer base? I'd love to know your thoughts, and ideas for how I can harness the male market! Because I want to make as many people as possible happy with cake. Over to you....
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