• Howard Wolpoff

More men taking the reins of the shopping cart

There seems to be a universal understanding in the grocery world that the household food shopping is done solely by women. Supermarkets and manufacturers are under this belief as well, as their advertising campaigns have been crafted to attract women, an perhaps children who can then tell their mom's what they would like them to purchase. But is this belief actually correct? Are these successful multi-million dollar companies actually losing money by continuing this advertising trend?

One only needs to look around the supermarket when they do their shopping to know that answer. Who is it you see in the checkout line next to you? Who is that you see taking advantage of that week's Buy One Get One Free selections? Men. They are all over the store. Selecting produce; ordering from the meat counter; choosing the cereal. There are more and more men shopping every day. They are not just shopping, they are couponing as well. They are also scanning their store card for additional discounts. There are a significant amount of single, divorced and widowed men in this country, and they are visiting supermarkets multiple times a week.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in a data report released in 2012, there were 103 million unmarried people in America 18 and older. This group made up 44.1 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older. 46.4 percent of these individuals were men. That equates to almost 48 million Americans who are not being directly marketing to - that is if you ignore the beer and Beef Jerky commercials.

According to consumer-research firm GfK MRI and an ESPN report, 31 percent of men nationwide were the primary household grocery shoppers in 2011, up from 14 percent in 1985. Some estimates are higher. A nationwide survey of 1,000 fathers conducted by Yahoo and market research firm DB5 released early this year said 51 percent were the primary grocery shoppers in their household. Of that group, 60 percent said they were the primary decision-makers regarding consumer package goods, which includes packaged food.

"We're seeing more men doing grocery shopping and more young dads cooking with their kids as a way to bond with them at home," said Phil Lempert, a supermarket consultant. "It's very different from the whole metrosexual phenomenon of six, seven, eight years ago, but a much more down-to-earth (approach), not trying to show off, but trying to be part of the family."

Brad Harrington, executive director of the Center for Work and Family at Boston College, said "men on the homefront are where women in the workplace were 30 years ago," in terms of how they are portrayed on television and even in advertisements — namely, as disengaged or incompetent. "If we portrayed women like that in the workplace, there would be an outcry," he said.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by Cone Communications new survey, 52 percent of fathers now identify themselves as the primary grocery shopper in their household, and while not all moms agree, about 35 percent say that over the past few years, dad has taken on more of the shopping. "No doubt male shopping behavior is undergoing major change," says Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. "Back in 1995, studies have shown that only 10 percent of men identified themselves as the family's main grocery shopper. That number has been rising steadily."

The survey included 1,000 parents of kids 17 and under. Other findings showed that 63 percent of dads make a detailed shopping list and 56 percent collect coupons or read store circulars. Additionally, dads are more likely to plan meals for the week ahead of time (52 percent vs. 46 percent of moms), and even more inclined to research grocery products (24 percent vs. 11 percent of moms).

But change appears to be under way. Kraft scored with men in 2011 by way of its Philadelphia Cooking Creme, which was attributed in part to displaying it near chicken. Guys impulsively bought that product, thinking that it was a way to try a different way of making chicken. Sales volumes of Philly Cooking Creme were 20 percent above expectations in 2011, the company said, after a $35 million investment in advertising, in-store promotions, coupons and product demonstrations.

The success of Philly Cooking Creme and other brands are case studies Kraft is presenting to the entire company, looking for other products where male-themed marketing makes sense. Some local grocery chains are also looking for ways to get into the mix. A spokeswoman for Jewel said the chain is watching the trend toward more male shoppers but hasn't made any major changes. A Safeway spokeswoman said they have man-friendly marketing in the works but declined to provide specifics.

Other chains have seen a good share of men for some time. Maggie Bahler, executive marketing coordinator for Whole Foods Market's Midwest region, said the chain's shoppers are about half men, although the company hasn't been tracking shopping habits by gender over time.

Men have different shopping tendencies which are causing food-makers to look at a different set of opportunities, as men appear to be less hurried in stores and more prone to impulse purchases than women.

"The mindset has been that she shops, she really knows every inch of the store, she is really organized, has a list, is in a huge hurry," Calpino said. "We talk to a lot of these millennial guys about shopping, and the biggest headline is they're not as structured, not as hurried, much more experimental, more adventurous."

Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief strategy officer with Leo Burnett in Chicago, said men are slightly more inclined to shop around for the best prices than are women.

"Though men are very mission-driven, very grab-and-go, get-it-done, it's not at the expense of paying a price premium," he said. "They are very driven by finding best prices before making purchases, and they're not going to jettison quality either."

Abhi Hansoti, a 35-year-old management consultant, said that because he does most of his shopping at two stores, "I know prices at both places and I'll pick things based on the prices there." Although Hansoti buys produce from Whole Foods because the quality is better "just from experience," he goes to Jewel for such items as bread and milk.

Hahn-Griffiths said men are less likely to ask for help finding an item but more likely to make a second sweep through the store, in case they've missed something. "It's part of the hunter mindset," he said. "When you're a hunter, you're more likely to move from place to place and recircle areas you might have missed." As a result, men might also be spending more time in stores than women.

Despite price sensitivity on shopping-list items, experts say, men are also prone to impulse buys. Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends at SymphonyIRI Group, explained that they "have a little brighter outlook on the economy and their finances, and this is going to impact their purchase behavior and their openness to impulsive purchases, trying new products, things of that nature."

So.....what is my point. I find it confusing that will all this research out there, why is it the that major supermarket chains for Jacksonville, Publix and Winn-Dixie do not market to the men of the First Coast. It is true that they are the past and current sponsors of the Jacksonville Jaguars and they both run "tailgating" promotions in the fall, but they will not activate either of these ventures with our radio station that directly markets to men. Our current advertisers are exceeding their marketing goals by running their commercials and participating in promotions on 1010XL. Wouldn't it make sense that both Publix and Winn-Dixie would do the same? If we have Carroll's Meat Shoppe selling out on the cuts they are advertising on our station, wouldn't the "Beef People" of Winn-Dixie succeed as well? Wouldn't Jaguars sponsor Publix be a perfect participant for our own tailgating promotion? Again, I find it confusing.

With that said, as we are about to turn the page to 2014....hey Publix and Winn-Dixie...have your people call my people. I can give you a direct line to the Men of Jacksonville and help you increase your revenues....

#men #shopping #marketing #supermarket

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