Targeting Male Grocery Shoppers
By Tom Ryan
While some men are as savvy in shopping the supermarket as any women, a large group are confused, lost and anxiety-ridden, according to Retail Forward.
TNS Retail Forward’s Shopper Perspectives program recently explored male shopping in grocery stores. Besides an increasing percentage of single men shopping for groceries, the study found more males in couple-households walking grocery aisles because families are “trying to fill too many to-do lists in too little time,” said Mandy Putnam, vice president and director of ShopperScape, Retail Forward’s monthly shopper survey, in a recent webinar.
According to a ShopperScape survey, 18 percent of grocery shoppers are men shopping alone. (Women shopping alone make up 60 percent; couples, 22 percent.)
The study – based on a survey and in-store observance – particularly focused on the sorriest lot: men in couple households shopping alone. These men particularly go to the grocery for fill-in trips (3.4 out of ten trips in couple households) over stock-up trips (2.3 out of ten).
Among the findings: men in general place a higher priority on location and convenience, especially for fill-trips; they care more about in-stock positions than women; and don’t particularly like loyalty cards. On the upside, men often vary from the list, creating impulse buy opportunities for grocers. On the downside, they’ll skip items they can’t find, and blame the store for being out of stock.
Indeed, perhaps the most revealing details came in the confusion many men endure comprehending shopping lists and getting lost in the layout of the supermarket. Among the behavior patterns seen in men shopping alone were:
- Circling back – Typically happens when the shopping list isn’t organized
according to how the store is laid out. Some men do one final sweep of every
aisle at the end of the shopping trip;
- Confused in center-store aisles – Men
particularly feel overwhelmed in areas such as cereal sections housing
- Focused on narrow target – Akin to the hunter versus
gatherer metaphor, men home in on their target very quickly, often paying
little attention to overhead signs for direction;
- Needing directions but
not fessing up – Men will typically not buy an item they can’t find, and
often tell the wife the item was out of stock rather than admitting he
couldn’t find it;
- Phone home – Men frequently phone their wives to make sure
they don’t make mistakes;
- Checking out – When doing fill-in shopping, self-checkout
is preferred. This often creates a problem for shopping with loyalty cards
because most men generally don’t want to lug them around.
Among the ways to better serve male grocery shoppers, Retail Forward suggests maintaining sufficient stock levels, especially on advertised items; providing more incentives not based on store loyalty cards; and leveraging opportunities to create brand preference, i.e. making coupons available at the shelves
Many of Retail Forward’s solutions are related to solving men’s anxieties around grocery shopping. These included designing rational store adjacencies where similar items are grouped together, making typical fill-in trip items easily accessible, giving list makers a way to organize those lists according to store layout, installing an item locator for those men who don’t ask questions, and building cell-phone friendly stores for men who have to phone home.
“Lists are necessary evils and men need help dealing with them,” say Ms. Putnam.
Discussion Questions: Should supermarkets rethink how they serve male grocery shoppers? If yes, what adjustments do you see stores making to better serve male shoppers? Would these adjustments help stores to better serve women, as well?