Gro­cery stores are adapt­ing to more male shop­pers

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - Byabha 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 per­cent of men are now the pri­mary gro­cery shop­pers in their house­holds, mark­ing a 19 per­cent in­crease from a decade ago.

The re­sults “chal­lenge many stereo­types re­lated to food shop­ping and cook­ing,” said Chris Peel, pub­lisher of Men’s Health. “Men have an ac­tive role in each stage of the food pur­chas­ing process – be­fore get­ting to the store, while there and when cook­ing the food they’ve bought.”

It is worth not­ing that Men’s Health sur­veyed only men. Other sur­veys of 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 per­cent of U.S. house­holds, while mar­ket re­search firm Video­min­ing puts that fig­ure at about 49 per­cent of shop­pers.

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.

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 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.

“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 ‘lunch box 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 bar­be­cue sauce to­gether, for in­stance, Un­der­hill said.

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