Most shopper behavior studies dissect shoppers by income, ethnicity and/or geographic location, but very few focus on shopping habits of men versus women, despite the fact that there is an increasing number of men at least partly responsible for shopping, either because they work or stay at home, or are a part of two-income households where shopping responsibilities are shared.

SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, said it recently studied the increasingly important male shopper in its latest Point of View,“Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus…Or Maybe Not?”and found that although there are several attitudinal and behavioral similarities with female shopper behavior, there are several important distinct differences.

“Our research shatters the stereotype of clueless men wandering around a grocery store,” says John McIndoe, Symphony IRI's senior vice president of marketing. “During the recent recession, men adopted money-saving strategies that point to a deliberate and well thought out grocery purchase processes that are worth noting, so that CPG marketers can connect with male shoppers more effectively.”

SymphonyIRI's Point of View highlights the attitudes and behaviors that characterize the male grocery shopper. The following are just a few highlights found in the report:

Male shoppers more likely to resist lifestyle changes

Difficult economic conditions have prompted consumers to become more conservative and self reliant in many ways.  While fewer men are making changes versus women, the ranks of those adapting remain significant. For example:

•    54 percent of men eat out less often
•    44 percent of men make cleaning products last longer
•    27 percent of men go to the doctor less often and are self treating more
•    19 percent of men use at-home beauty treatments more (e.g. hair coloring, facials)

Money-saving strategies

Shoppers are stretching their CPG dollars by shopping across multiple CPG channels to make their purchases. In addition, scaling back is quite pervasive in the retail store as consumers re-examine their priorities and allocate their limited funds accordingly. Across a range of “scaling back” behaviors, though, male shoppers are showing a lesser inclination to change versus their female counterparts. The disparity is largely explained by the fact that men demonstrate a more optimistic perspective on the economy and personal finances. A few examples include:

•    35 percent of men shop at multiple stores to find the lowest prices
•    35 percent of men purchase only needed items, rather than stocking up, to keep weekly budget in check
•    31 percent of men buy more “all purpose” cleaning supplies to reduce the number of items needed

Men don’t ask for directions, but do make lists

Nearly two-thirds of male shoppers are making shopping lists before entering the grocery store. In many instances, these lists are quite detailed. Itemized lists are common for both men and women but are slightly more prevalent among males. A few surprising list-making behaviors include:

•    56 percent of men listed categories to buy (e.g. coffee, frozen pizza, toothpaste)
•    16 percent of men listed specific brands to buy
•    12 percent of men listed specific private label/store brands to buy

“Overall, men have adopted a wide range of money-saving rituals and shopping strategies in much greater numbers than the traditional stereotype of the male shopper would indicate,” adds McIndoe. “In fact, in many regards, men shop similarly to women. That said, as with any consumer segment, it is the knowledge of nuanced differences that separates the wheat from the chaff. CPG marketers must evaluate the rituals, attitudes and behaviors of male shoppers very closely and understand how these factors impact each aspect of the decision and purchase process for their own categories and brands.”

Male shopper methodology
SymphonyIRI’s new research,“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus…
or Maybe Not?”highlights findings from an Internet-based, nationally-representative survey of more than 2,200 shoppers from SymphonyIRI’s Consumer Network Panel. This survey was conducted in January 2011 as part of SymphonyIRI’s new MarketPulse Survey series.