Women shop more, seek variety in men when they are most fertile, study says

Unmarried women nearing ovulation are more likely to seek variety in men and consumer products than women who are married or less fertile, a study published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests.

Researchers, from the University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted four studies of 553 female participants in the U.S. between ages 18 and 40 who were not pregnant or taking hormonal contraceptives. They found that women who sought different romantic partners were also more inclined to experiment with different brands of consumer goods. Women who were married, or otherwise loyal to a romantic partner, were less inclined to seek product variety— a finding that suggests loyalty in romance may translate to loyalty of brands, study authors say.

“From candy bars to cosmetics, ovulating women chose many different options— not just the same product or brand again and again,” lead investigator Kristina M. Durante, marketing assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said in a news release. "However, when we had women imagine themselves in a loving relationship with a desirable partner, or when we had married women put on their wedding rings, they no longer desired variety near ovulation."

Durante and her team aimed to pinpoint a connection between women’s menstrual cycles and their  buying choices. When women are nearing ovulation, they are most fertile. They say their findings may have practical implications for marketers, her main area of study. Durante added that further research needs to be conducted on whether social value, cost and product nature may influence the impact of fertility on variety seeking.