Who tips better – men or women?

I conducted an interesting experiment on my Facebook page recently. While at a great little coffee shop in West Vancouver called Bean Around the World, I noticed a very clever initiative by staff to get tips. Here’s the image:

I posted this photo to Facebook and took a VERY unofficial pole of my friends there to see who they thought tips the most. I promised to post a “top down” shot to display the results the next day. While there were lots of “likes” and comments about it being a good strategy, there was also much banter about the reasons why their vote made the most sense. There were even an observation from one female friend about another clever way to engage customers in the tipping process; having them vote with a tip if they preferred bearded or clean shaven men. What came through in the end was a 5:1 ratio of votes supporting men being the biggest tippers.

So then I decided to display the “big reveal” photo:

This wasn’t really the result. The gal at the counter tossed a lot of the guys money in the women’s cup for the photo. But prior to doing that I observed: (1) Roughly the same number of coins in each, perhaps marginally more in the men’s. (2) However, the composition of the coins was interesting – lots of quarters, dimes and nickels in the women’s and an odd loonie. The guys had loonies and toonies and a few quarters. So my conclusions? Women do tip about the same, but not as MUCH. Guys are perhaps more willing to toss the larger coins because they have fewer places to put them, as suggested by one friend noting women have change purses and handbags. But the biggest learning was – both sexes respond to competition and gave more. My point was driven home immediately after this photo was taken. The guy behind me tossed all the change into the men’s cup from his $10 after buying a latte.┬áBut then again it was West Vancouver – likely not demographically aligned with many other places! Anyway you look at it though, smart move by the employees at Bean Around the World. And when I heard the big tipper mutter something about the guys needing to step it up, I couldn’t help wonder if stacking the competition to look like the gals were winning was strategic?



Mary Charleson


  1. I think some of this theory could be applied to a sales situation as well. Leveraging a little healthy competition could easily boost sales overall.

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