Look who’s buying groceries now


Recently there’s been a lot of discussion and time spent on ethnic Canadians, who represent about 20% of the population and are expected to increase to 30% by 2030.

There has also been a lot of effort placed on understanding millennials, the next generation of uber consumers who are hitting their prime spending years and represent about 27% of the population.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more emphasis placed on men as shoppers, as that demographic is increasingly taking on greater grocery shopping responsibility. Men represent 50% of the population. Shouldn’t we be looking at opportunities that are right in front of us?

For years, the primary grocery shopper has usually been the female head of the household. Today, according to a recent Mintel study, in approximately 40% of households men have taken on that responsibility. Add to that shared responsibility then we are well over 60% of households in Canada where men have either primary or shared responsibility for grocery shopping in the household.

Why is this occurring? Part of the reason is there’s a growing number of single person households in Canada, due to later marrying ages and high divorce rates. More importantly, men are taking a larger role in management of the household. For example, there has been a significant increase in stay-at-home-dads. In Canada 12%, of households have a stay-at-home dad, up from 1% in 1976.

The biggest change, however, has been with the baby boomers, who are really stepping up when it comes to grocery shopping. According to Project Millennial, a study conducted at the end of 2013, 45% of boomer males claim to have the primary responsibility for grocery shopping compared to 24% of millennial males. This has risen consistently from an overall of 15% in the early 2000’s.

This is significant because grocery stores and food manufacturers for the most part have been targeting the female primary grocery shopper. This could mean the difference between success and failure for some brands and retailers. A few differences between how men and women shop have been highlighted in different studies over the years.

-       60% of men want to get in and get out of the store as quickly as possible

-       men are less likely to make impulse purchases

-       men are less likely to be motivated by discounts and promotions

-       men are less likely to comparison shop

-       men less price sensitive

-       60% won’t use coupons

-       50% want a one-stop-shop more than the lowest price

The list could go on.  Suffice to say men shop differently than women.

The question is, what do you need to change to attract more men?

Of course there are nuances for every category, differences between products/brands and retailers not to mention industries.

In general, the less price sensitive male shopper will force marketers to really think about their point of difference as opposed to just relying on price reductions and promotions to drive volume. Building a strong brand image is more important than ever. The key as always is to understand your consumer.  In this case your male consumer as much as your female consumer.

The next time you’re conducting research, think about with whom you need to speak. If it’s the primary grocery shopper, make sure you include a 50/50 split between male and female respondents. This is especially true when conducting qualitative research. To really understand the essence of a topic you need to talk to both men and women.

As you begin to think about your plans for the years to come ask yourself whether your strategies have been too focused on the motivations and needs of the female shopper. Review your strategies in the past and ensure going forward they would attract both men and women.

This is an important time for marketing, sales and category management to work together to ensure that the push into the stores and the store level tactics are aligned with the pull marketing strategies to maximize the benefit of attracting both men and women.

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