Real men do shop


For many years, household shopping duties for groceries and other essentials traditionally fell to the woman of the house. But within the past few years, that reality has changed somewhat.

“Ten years ago, there were far fewer men even making trips to the grocery store,” notes Janet Oak, senior director of consumer strategy and insights for Galileo Global Branding Group, part of Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon Worldwide. “Today, 89 percent of male grocery shoppers make more than one mission-oriented trip a week, and 50 percent make three or more mission-oriented trips per week to shop for food and beverages for the household.”

Make no mistake, though: Although men are shopping more often these days, their share of shopping trips still lags behind women’s.

With the exception of convenience stores, “females still dominate every retail channel in terms of the share of trips they drive,” says Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer and shopper insights for New York-based Nielsen. But males’ share of retail channel shopping trips did rise in every channel except the drugstore channel between 2004 and 2012, he adds.

Shifting attitudes

The rise in share of trips can be attributed, in part, to major shifts in the social climate, says Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, New York. For example, many of today’s Generation X and millennial men grew up in households with working mothers, and most of them who have gotten married have a working woman as a wife. They’ve become shoppers, therefore, out of necessity.

Technology advances such as smartphone apps also have helped to bring about a shift in attitudes. They have made it “cool” for men to look for coupons and other discounts, she says.

“Ten, 12 years ago, we would see differences between the way men and women shopped,” Corlett notes. “We would see men being less attentive to price, to couponing, to discounts. Today, men and women are much more similar in their shopping attitudes.”

But a man’s age also impacts attitudes toward shopping.

In its “Men on a Mission” study, published in December, Daymon Worldwide segmented male shoppers into six archetypes related to gender roles, cooking and shopping. Two of the segments, “Traditional Male” and “Primal Male,” tend to be older males, Oak explains, and exhibit “more old-fashioned views about household chores and grocery shopping,” as well as gender roles. Younger male shoppers are more likely to fall into the remaining four archetypes:

  • “Modern-Day Male” — This group encompasses more forward-thinking shoppers who believe in equality and enjoy being active participants in household chores and cooking.
  • “Discerning Male” — This group is highly educated and shares many of the traits of the Modern-Day Male group. These men are more involved in food shopping and focus on the highest-quality offerings.
  • “Confused Male” — This group tends to be in a state of confusion in relation to gender roles.
  • “Heckled Male” — This group does its best to avoid conflict; men here will bend to the will of the women in their lives.

Differing behaviors

The attitudes of these six archetypes impact shopping-related behaviors. Grocery shopping missions for the Traditional Male and Primal Male groups generally fall into two types, Oak says: “Stockpiling the Man Cave” for guy-themed entertaining occasions and “On DeMand” for quick-and-easy solutions to avoid cooking. The four remaining groups, meanwhile, are more likely to embark on four other types of shopping trip missions: “Well MAN-nered,” which involves the purchase of items that show they care or that accommodate entertaining occasions where they can impress family and friends; “Man-Shape,” which centers on achieving a healthy lifestyle through healthful product purchases; “Crowd MANagement,” which calls for “more robust” shopping occasions that aim to find something for everyone; and “Man-riety,” which aims to switch things up or try something different.

While females are more likely than males as a whole to engage in preplanning before making a shopping list — including such activities as taking inventory, looking at store circulars for sales and specials, gathering pre-collected coupons and looking for new coupons, and asking household members what they want — men are more likely than women to compile a mental list or to “wing it” with no plan, she says.

Hale agrees that women are more apt to be deal-oriented, but notes that men tend to become more deal-prone as they age, and to increase shopping frequency.

“I think that kind of speaks to, ‘Give me something to get out of the house,’” he asserts.

And overall, men tend to shop in fewer stores in comparison to women, Corlett notes. But they aren’t necessarily more loyal to a particular store or stores.

“I think it means that they consolidate — they want to shop more efficiently,” she says. “They also have a narrower set because they don’t necessarily do the shopping for the whole family” or frequent many specialty stores.

Opportunity knocks

With men shopping more often, retailers have an opportunity to cater to them via store brand products and programs. In fact, Nielsen Homescan data show that men and women spent an equal percentage of their shopping dollars — 19 percent — across the grocery/supermarket, dollar, mass, drug, club and c-store channel s in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2012.

Hale believes that non-edibles could be a growth engine for store brands — fueled by male shoppers. The strong focus on food has contributed, in part, to private label share stagnation.

“Men handle the less personal buying — motor care, lawn and garden, computer electronic products, charcoal, things of that sort,” Hale says. “It speaks to an opportunity when you think about it.”

On the product marketing front, retailers need to understand that messaging that connects with females — emotional-based marketing, visual imagery such as human faces, stress-free tactics and more — doesn’t necessarily connect with males, and adjust accordingly. See the graphic, this page.

Another opportunity lies in merchandising own-brand products to better appeal to men. For example, as more men buy their own personal grooming and hair care products, more retailers are creating a “men’s zone” in the store, Corlett says. And store brands could be front and center in such a zone.

And Oak advises thinking about the type of male and his mission in creating such sections or aisles. For example, a retailer could create a destination-oriented “man aisle” for the Primal Male shopper archetype that is stocked with everything he needs to entertain his friends and family at home. She points to football-shaped crackers, crackers with extreme flavors, and wings and blue cheese as possible product development avenues for stocking the aisle.

“Understand that men on a mission prefer to have everything they need all in one place,” Oak says. “So while current retailers are set up by category, consideration should be given as to how to bring snack and candy ‘solutions’ together, all in one place.”