More men pushing shopping carts, but are brands and retailers adapting?

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th May 2014
Men are doing more grocery shopping

Men globally have gained or maintained trip share in all retail channels except pharmacy visits since 2004, according to findings from global market research organisation Nielsen.

Nielsen highlighted two studies by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), which showed an increase in men’s role in shopping. The first PLMA study found that between 2004 and 2011, cooking moved to seventh from 12th on a list of men’s top interests. This put cooking ahead of politics and reading, and just below cars. A second PLMA study found that 47 per cent of men polled did more than half of their families’ shopping and cooking.

Nielsen’s own research showed that while women still drove 64 per cent of all shopping trips, dominating every retail channel except convenience/gas, the rise of male shoppers cannot be ignored. As men assume more household responsibilities, their new influence over how cupboards and refrigerators are stocked will require food manufacturers and retailers to ‘fine-tune’ their marketing plans or risk losing business.

Differences between male and female shoppers

Nielsen found that women were more likely to seek out deals than men. Women bought more on sale in total (34 per cent of dollar purchases compares with 28 per cent for men) and shopped with coupons about twice as much as men (7 per cent compared with 4 per cent).

When the distribution of all-outlet spending for men and women were compared, the split varied by age. Young women under 36 years of age outspent their male counterparts almost two to one (19 per cent compared to 12 per cent). The gap narrowed with age, though women 36 to 44 years old retain a slight edge (16 per cent compared with 13 per cent). Men found their stride from 45 to 54 years old, outspending women just slightly (27 per cent compared with 26 per cent), then extended their lead between the ages of 55 and 64 years (26 per cent versus 21 per cent) and maintained it after age 65 (23 per cent versus 18 per cent).

Nielsen found that women dominated trip share for beauty, baby and basic food categories. Female share of category sales in many beauty and baby categories was between 79 per cent and 90 percent. Female shoppers held a 74 per cent share of category sales by gender for items such as baking mixes, desserts/gels/syrups and breakfast foods, leaving men with just a 26 per cent share. Even though men spent more per trip than women in many of these categories, more women bought and they bought more often.

Convenience stores, however, followed a different pattern. Male shopping trips in this channel led female trips 57 per cent to 43 per cent. Nielsen said the channel’s unique position could set an example for others to follow. To help simplify shopping like convenience does, Nielsen said top-selling categories—such as beer, carbonated beverages, snacks, juices, bread and milk—were already collaborating with retailers to harness store layout, package design and in-store signage to create themed deal areas that bundle items, benefiting retailers, manufacturers and consumers.

Finding common ground in stores between genders

Nielsen found that when it came time to shop, both genders shared a preference for heading to the stores on the weekends. Men and women also bought many of the same items when they went to the store: bread/baked goods, fresh produce, snacks and milk appeared among the top 10 most frequently purchased categories for both sexes.

Men and women also had similar habits when picking products. They equally favored brands compared with private label (about 80 per cent compared with 20 per cent for both genders), although women spent more on both. And both genders showed strong preferences for brands in certain categories. Women accounted for 81 per cent of dollars spent for branded hair care, and well over half of men bought branded products in motor vehicle care (57 per cent) and liquor (58 per cent).

What the differences and similarities mean for retailers

Nielsen said men and women’s unique shopping habits could provide challenges to retailers attempting to reach both. However, the benefits could far outweigh these difficulties—especially for certain categories and channels.

Men’s lower interest in shopping for deals could provide a unique opportunity for premium priced brands and non-promotional items—especially with men under 36 years of age. And while convenience is a nice-to-have for female shoppers, it’s a deal breaker for men. Nielsen said retailers and marketers of food and beverage products would benefit from keeping their shoppers’ preferences in mind.