Study: Men Go Grocery Shopping

Discussion
Jan 18, 2011
George Anderson

Throw
out the stereotypes. A
new study from Yahoo shows
that adult males in the U.S. between 18 and 64 are
doing their part with a number of household chores
often assumed to be done by women.

For example, 51 percent of guys told Yahoo
they were the primary grocery shoppers in their homes. Forty-one percent are
in charge of the cooking and 39 percent handle most of their household’s laundry.
It should be noted that other studies have shown that more than 80 percent
of women say they do most of their family’s grocery shopping.

David Stewart,
the Robert E. Brooker professor of marketing at the University of Southern
California’s Marshall School of Business, told WebMD, "More
and more men are picking up items at the grocery store. But they are frequently
following the instructions of the female in the household. Traditionally, the
woman was the decision maker and shopper. Now the female is still the primary
decision maker, but the shopping is more often shared by two individuals."

David
Mick, PhD, professor of marketing at the McIntire School of Commerce at the
University of Virginia, told WebMD, "There is no doubt that
men’s and women’s shopping roles have changed. Men are more often going into
grocery stores and buying categories of things they would not have bought a
generation ago. It has been going on for the last 20 years, and has been steadily
rising."

Discussion Questions: What do the gender realities of modern day grocery shopping mean for retailers and consumer brands? How do retailers, for example, create an environment for consumers (male and female) who shop the store very differently?

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21 Comments on "Study: Men Go Grocery Shopping"


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David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

I advise taking Yahoo surveys with a huge grain of salt, however, if 51 percent of guys are the primary grocery shoppers in their homes, then consumer products marketers and retailers alike need to do some fine tuning in how they conduct marketing, merchandising, and graphic designs, especially for male oriented CPGs that we currently believe that women are purchasing for men at home.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

What we need is better research on this issue. One study says 51% of males are primary shoppers, another says only 20%. Some of this 51% are directed by the female head of household. So what we don’t know is, category by category, what decisions males are making. Once we know that, we can design categories (and perhaps packaging) that are gender specific or gender neutral.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 3 months ago
Shared household duties is a function of several changes in a modern relationship. Long gone are the days when men worked and women were regulated to running the house. Today both partners in a relationship are likely to share duties. I grew up in a home where the Mom worked so we learned how to wash, iron (remember when people did that), clean and cook. Today we know many couples where the husband may do most or all of the cooking, etc. Part is because of what interests each party and part is simply that today it is accepted and even expected that men will play a more active role in household duties. I admit, in our household, my wife is the primary shopper but I will make pantry load runs for items that are of particular interest to me. The difference is I still bring my bias of being a buyer and not a shopper–i.e., I go in and get the items I came for without much thought to alternatives or shelf gazing, price… Read more »
Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
10 years 3 months ago
A couple of years ago I conducted a national research study on the differences between men and women when it comes to customer service attributes related to grocery shopping. I presented the findings at the National Grocers Association under the title, “Men are from Home Depot; Women are from Bed, Bath and Beyond.” Not surprisingly, regardless of gender, the top four customer service attributes were as follows:Accurate check out Speedy check out No products on shelf after “sell by” dateUncluttered aisles However, included in the top ten for men but not for women, were the following:Shopper friendly store layout Sale prices honored without the need to clip coupons Advertised specials in stock Employees show appreciation for customer’s business Food retailers need to recognize these differences and address the needs of male shoppers. While more men are doing the grocery shopping, they are still more comfortable in Home Depot than their neighborhood grocery store. Make sure male shoppers have access to a visual store directory, don’t make them clip coupons, and don’t allow them to leave… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 3 months ago
Ah…the age old problem of the testosterone in the tomatoes! First of all this is an ethnically-blind observation. In several cultures it is, in fact the man that has either done the shopping or accompanies the family when the shopping was done. Next, it is always exciting to see social science catch up panting with the reality of market forces. Gee…didn’t traditional households begin to disappear somewhere in the mid-1960s? Has anyone noticed decline in marriage rates and/or increase in divorce rates which might point to…GASP…the idea that men might have to obtain their own food? Like all stereotypical thinking the notion that all men did all their food shopping at a convenience store is erroneous. Men have been infiltrating the supermarket for years, (apparently unnoticed), some without a woman to direct them! And, even if this were not true, what does it say about our understanding of gender and equality to assume that canned soup, produce, dairy products, and long checkout lines aren’t already gender neutral enough? One of the problems in this industry… Read more »
W. Frank Dell II
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

These two studies seem to be saying two different things. One says males are doing 51% of the shopping and the other says females are the primary shopper. We need to break this down; they both could be correct. The female could be making the purchase decision and doing the primary shopping trip. The male could be doing all the fill in trips under direction from the female. This could result in greater shopping time and even dollars spent. Another factor is the growth is single head of households which could influence the survey results.

Generally, male shoppers go, find, and get out of the store as compared to female that actually shops. To service both shoppers requires a store that’s easy to shop, clearly signed, and a food focus. We don’t need a supermarket to be a man cave.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 3 months ago

In addition to males taking on greater household responsibilities, grocery stores also need to realize people are marrying later (or not at all), and many men in their 30s, 40s and 50s are single and shopping for themselves. While it still makes sense for grocery stores to lean toward targeting the female consumer, they should try to make more effort to attract males who need gender-specific hygiene and personal grooming products and have different tastes in other food and CPG categories than women.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 3 months ago

For whatever reasons you choose (higher unemployment, change in cultural norms, whatever), there’s no question that men do a lot more shopping than in the past.

In my experience, if you’re going to appeal to the male shopper, recognize that the overwhelming majority of men are target oriented. They know what they want before they enter the store. They are not “browsers,” they do not look at the shopping experience as a pleasurable pastime, they look at it as a task. They are, however, loyal customers.

If you help them find what they are looking for quickly (clearly signed, easy to navigate, logical flow and adjacencies) and then get them through checkout and out the door efficiently, they will definitely come back, in most cases traveling past the competition to get to the store that recognizes their preferences.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
10 years 3 months ago

While prompted to some extent by the effects of the recession, it’s very clear that the gender playing field is leveling. With this will come a re-evaluation of much more than simply traditional household roles and duties.

Faith Popcorn put together a brilliant piece on what she calls EN-GEN, or the end of the gender wars, in which she projects a variety of social and economic shifts that will follow this momentous shift.

It’s a phenomenon that marketers will have to watch very closely and begin to somehow address the cognitive shopping tendencies of men with the more emotive propensity of female shoppers. Who knows, the result could be a far better and more holistic shopping experience for both sexes.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

The women standing in line at grocery stores will no doubt be relieved to learn that they can now relax at home, because their men have been not only doing the shopping, but also the cooking. Next we’ll learn that men have been cleaning the house and shopping for Christmas and birthday gifts, too. 🙂

Dave Wendland
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Perhaps statistics are a bit misleading here, however, using simple, non-scientific observation techniques, there are many more men shopping then a generation or two ago. So … it is a market segment worth paying attention to, catering to, and merchandising to attract.

John Karolefski
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

The results of the survey are not surprising. However, without any hard evidence, I suspect that the great majority of married men are simply buying from a shopping list if their wives are the chief cooks in the household (and most of them are). More importantly, I believe that male shoppers are more prone to impulse-buy products than female shoppers — whether they live in the same household or not. Sharp retailers and brand marketers should take advantage of the former with some smart in-store marketing and merchandising.

Chuck Palmer
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

We’re seeing a reflection of a deepening in the partnership approach to household management. (Someday, The Home Depot may get that theirs is not a boys vs. girls thing, but a good retail engagement thing.)

Yes, there is a sliding scale between purchase strategy and procurement. “We need milk, eggs, and diapers, oh and don’t forget to get something nice for your Mom’s birthday.” Yikes.

I would say that grocery needs to understand men more, yes. There is probably market-basket and margin opportunity in the differences between the way women and men shop. This is why grocery at Walmart and Target makes so much sense.

Men, like women, like to cook, eat, provide healthful options for their families and more and more–especially in younger families and “ethnic” sectors–are working in concert to balance the needs and aspirations of their families.

Joan Treistman
Guest
10 years 3 months ago
I think the real lesson has to do with paying attention to who is in the store and what are they doing. This is the responsibility of each retailer. Throwing darts at the various surveys doesn’t reduce the risk of not knowing the answers to the questions above. Men have traditionally been the “hunters.” Send them out into the supermarket with a list and they will bring home the groceries. Women have been the “gatherers.” They search out the options and give consideration to the choices. But retailers should try to understand if that role has changed in their stores. And they should uncover any differences in the purchase decision behavior. When a man goes into the store for his family, does he already know the brands…or does he make those decisions in the store? Of course these questions are the tip of the iceberg. All I’m saying is that the retailers have to do their own research and uncover the truths for their environment and then develop strategies to leverage what they have learned.… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

The comments show a bit of apple and orange comparison. The fact is only about 1/3 of the households in the U.S. have a husband and wife (man & woman). Therefore, 51% of the men doing the primary shopping in their HOMES makes considerable sense. Similarly, it is not surprising that 80% of the women do most of their FAMILY’S grocery shopping.

Perhaps the most important research to be done is to determine what is in the cupboards of the men only households. It is probably a good bet that they are hardly filled to the brim.

Lee Peterson
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Our studies with men show 3 key attributes to keep in mind when trying to successfully market them: Simplicity–Power–Solutions. The driver behind these concepts is the fact that men are target shoppers. Hunters, not gatherers.

Given all the above, grocers have a long way to go; stores are often cluttered, most messaging is multi-faceted and confusing and solutions are not very apparent. Lists from home will only go so far and definitely NOT get men to expand their baskets.

So, lots to do! If this trend continues, there’s much grocers will have to do to adjust, maybe even segmenting their stores. But for now, in the minds of most grocers, it’s a woman’s world…and those minds would be first that would need to be changed.

Daryle Hier
Guest
Daryle Hier
10 years 3 months ago

Although the survey needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe a pile), I do think it shows the directional shift society is taking. Participation by both sexes in differing segments is more and more the norm. And yes, marketing and advertising departments need to alter their projections as far as who is actually the purchaser. Each business has their own particular influences but households are ever-changing and advertising should reflect the growing-trend of males buying habits and purchasing power. Now if companies could do a better job of engagement ….

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

While most people here–perhaps understandably–are caught up in the seeming contradiction between the various numbers presented, there is little discussion of the question which (IMHO) matters: do men and women behave differently when shopping???

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

“notcom”‘s response is spot-on. Do men and women differ in their shopping, and if so, how? Does it vary regionally, urban versus rural. What about internationally? The answers are, “YES”! Your shopper audience will vary by store, and that is nothing new, not has it been optimally addressed by many, if ANY retailers. This is not an exact science, however the tools available in the marketplace today take out much of the guesswork around shopper and customer analytics.

The survey results are suspect, however the questions raised are the issues.

Mark Burr
Guest
10 years 3 months ago
As Mr. George points out:Accurate check out, Speedy check out, No products on shelf after “sell by” date, and Uncluttered aisles are in common. He goes on to say: However, included in the top ten for men but not for women, were the following:Shopper friendly store layout, Sale prices honored without the need to clip coupons, Advertised specials in stock and Employees show appreciation for customer’s business. Yet, if asked properly, I’d be amazed if the items shown not in the top ten for women wouldn’t be equally valued or highly desired just the same as men. Having to rank items always puts something on the bottom no matter what. It doesn’t necessary fairly evaluate its value. Men are men. A facinating conclusion. Women are women. An inexplicable and wonderful conclusion. While I may be overly simplistic, its likely more about a distinction in ‘How’ versus ‘What’ (with some exceptions of course). So if a retailer focused on the all core items Mr. George identifies, would they be making a mistake by neglecting women, favoring… Read more »
Steven Johnson
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat garners the attention of male shoppers.

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