Gro­cery stores are adapt­ing to male shop­pers

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

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 be­hav­ioral 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 per­cent 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.’

Case in point: Women are most likely to buy 12-packs of beer, while men typ­i­cally buy 6-packs, ac­cord­ing to Un­der­hill.

“Men tend to be hun­ters: They want to kill some­thing quickly, drag it out and feel suc­cess­ful,” he said. “Wom- en, though, they’re think­ing ahead and plan­ning ac­cord­ingly.”

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. As a re­sult, su­per- mar­kets have be­gun adding more spe­cial dis­plays in their stores, and are re­think­ing their or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Re­mem­ber: Many male shop­pers come to the store with­out a weekly or even same-day meal plan in mind,” Kel­logg’s said in a 2015 re­port.

“Con­sider or­ga­niz­ing aisles and dis­plays around shop­per mis­sions, like ‘lunch­box es­sen­tials’ or ‘tonight’s din­ner,’ and call­ing out these sec­tions with clear sig­nage so the male shop­per can quickly find what he is look­ing for.”

Other chains have be­gun mak­ing smaller changes: Group­ing meats and barbe- cue sauce to­gether, for in­stance, or dis­play­ing wine glasses along­side bot­tles of wine, Un­der­hill said.

“Part of what they’re do­ing is try­ing to make the shop­ping process more fun,” he said. “Men tend to get eas­ily frus­trated.”

And, added Ste­wart, just be­cause more Amer­i­can men are buy­ing gro­ceries doesn’t mean there isn’t room for im­prove­ment.

“There are def­i­nite dif­fer­ences in per­cep­tion: Men think they’’re great shop­pers,” Ste­wart said.

“But women — wives, girl­friends, spouses — they tend to have, well, a less pos­i­tive view.”

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