Men vs. Women: Who's a better smart phone shopper?

By Amanda WalkerConsumer Reports

Smart shoppers know their smart phones can help them land the best deals. You can use your phone's shopping apps while you're in a store to check competitors prices, look up product ratings, check out user reviews, and download coupon codes or promotional discounts.

To find out how people use their smart phones to help them shop, we surveyed 2,180 subscibers who own one.

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Turns out most of them didn't leave their phones off while they were scouring the aisles. Nearly 82 percent who used their phone while shopping found it to be at least a little helpful when it came to saving money. Nearly 80 percent found it at least a little helpful in saving time, and 87 percent said it helped them, at least a little, purchase the best available product.

Equal numbers of men and women used their smart phone to take notes about items they were thinking of buying, and to pay for their purchases with a credit or debit card linked to an app.

Women were focused on finding discounts on products they wanted using their smart phone. More of them:

  • Looked up coupon or promotion codes (26 percent vs. 20 percent)
  • Turned to their phone for reward cards linked to an app (19 percent vs. 14 percent)
  • Refered to lists they had made on their phone (48 percent vs. 42 percent)

On the other hand, more men were focused on researching the products they were considering. They were more likely to have:

  • Comparison shopped for better prices (37 percent vs. 27 percent)
  • Looked up product ratings (35 percent vs. 28 percent)
  • Checked user reviews (34 percent vs. 29 percent)

So who's a better smart phone shopper? Sorry, we're not going there. Overall, 42 percent of the people we surveyed said using their phone was very helpful; only 17 percent said it was more of a hassle than it's worth.

If you use your phone to help you buy the right product at the best price you can find, you win.

No matter how well they use their phones to get a better deal, it's possible that women may still pay more for some of the products they buy than men.

For example, you'll see products in any drugstore that seem to be twins, except for one thing: One is for women, the other for men. We discovered that products directed at women—through packaging, description, or name—might cost up to 50 percent more than similar products for men.

Bottom line here: Try ignoring gender labeling, and buy the cheaper version.

Mandy Walker

This article also appeared in the April 2014 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

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