More men shop­ping for food, and stores have taken note

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - ABHA BHATTARAI

More men are head­ing to the su­per­mar­ket these days.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey by Men’s Health, which found that 84 per cent of men are now the pri­mary gro­cery shop­pers in their house­holds, mark­ing a 19 per cent in­crease from a decade ago.

The re­sults “chal­lenge many gen­der stereo­types re­lated to food shop­ping and cook­ing,” said Chris Peel, pub­lisher of Men’s Health.

It is worth not­ing that Men’s Health sur­veyed only men. Other sur­veys of both men and women have con­cluded that women con­tinue to do slightly more of the coun­try’s food-buy­ing: NPD Group, for ex­am­ple, es­ti­mates that men are the pri­mary gro­cery shop­pers in 41 per cent of U.S. house­holds, while mar­ket re­search firm VideoMin­ing puts that fig­ure at about 49 per cent of shop­pers.

In any case, there is mount­ing ev­i­dence that more men are shop­ping for gro­ceries than in pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. And when they do head to the store, men tend to buy many items at once, and shop alone, ac­cord­ing to Men’s Health.

The rea­sons for those shifts are twofold, ex­perts say. Gen­der roles are shift­ing, which means men are tak­ing on more house­hold re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. And Amer­i­cans are in­creas­ingly putting off mar­riage, so “you’ve got a lot of sin­gle men who’ve got to shop for them­selves,” says David W. Ste­wart, a mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sor at Loy­ola Mary­mount Univer­sity.

And it doesn’t hurt that “there’s a younger gen­er­a­tion of man who’s ac­tively in­ter­ested in food,” said Paco Un­der­hill, chief ex­ec­u­tive of En­vi­rosell, a New York be­havioural re­search firm. Nearly half of those sur­veyed by Men’s Health, for ex­am­ple, said they’d watched cook­ing videos in the past year, while 93 per cent said they’d pre­pared meals for them­selves.

But there are still pro­nounced dif­fer­ences in how men and women ap­proach gro­cery shop­ping.

“Men are not ter­ri­bly strate­gic,” Ste­wart said. “They walk in and buy what they re­mem­ber is needed. They’re buy­ing for right now, or maybe tonight. Any­thing be­yond that is too long-term.”

Men also tend to spring for pricier cuts of meat and are more eas­ily in­flu­enced by a brand’s name or rep­u­ta­tion, Ste­wart said. There are more likely to buy what is eas­ily vis­i­ble and catches their eye.

Gro­cery store chains have be­gun mak­ing smaller changes: group­ing meats and bar­be­cue sauce to­gether, for in­stance, or dis­play­ing wine glasses along­side bot­tles of wine, Un­der­hill said.

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