Familiarity, Convenience Matter Most to Male Grocery Shoppers: Retail Forward Webinar

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Familiarity, Convenience Matter Most to Male Grocery Shoppers: Retail Forward Webinar

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The main reason men choose a grocery store is based on convenience, and they will often choose a store with a familiar layout over a store with a superior offering, according to a Webinar examining he shopping behavior of men held yesterday by Global management consulting and market research firm Retail Forward here.

Women often opt for convenience, too, but men are more likely to, said Retail Forward analysts. Men also place less importance on sales and promos than women do, but they place more emphasis on in-stocks.

The Webinar, "Men in Grocery Stores: In Aisle and In Need," was based on a Retail Forward study and white paper, "Shopper Perspectives: Men in Grocery Stores."

During the Webinar, Mandy Putnam, author of the study, pointed out that 18 percent of all shopping trips are men shopping alone, either due to being single or divorced, or as a way of dividing labor with a wife or domestic partner. Men on stock-up shopping trips are more likely to go to warehouse clubs than female shoppers are, but for both stock-up and quick fill-in trips the supermarket channel is still dominant, she said.

Top items bought by men shopping on their own are beer/wine, dairy and bakery staples such as milk and bread, carbonated soft drinks, and meat/seafood. Cleaning products land at the bottom of the men's list.

As for lists, 55 percent of men shop using one, most commonly prepared by the female head of household (25 percent). Lists prepared by wives or partners were the most detailed, while those written up by the men themselves were the least detailed.

One common trait among male shoppers, Putnam unsurprisingly found, is that they're reluctant to ask store personnel for help finding items, and when asked whether they found everything they were looking for at checkout, they usually reply in the affirmative, even if they couldn't actually find something. As men are loath to ask for directions, the result is missed opportunities to buy, noted Putnam, adding that men often tell their wives an item they couldn't find was out of stock.

"Circling back" to locate items on a list that were missed the first time around is a common phenomenon, caused by having a list not organized according to a store's layout.

As for the mindset men bring to shopping, most - 33 percent - want to get it over with as quickly as possible, while fully 24 percent make impulsive rather than disciplined purchasing decisions.

Center store is particularly challenging for many male shoppers, who admitted their bewilderment at its plethora of products and categories. Unlike women shoppers, men tend to focus on a narrow target, usually paying no attention to overhead promotions such as danglers.

Men often call home for clarification of list items, sometimes multiple times, and take their wives' or partners' brand preferences into account while shopping. They often support local or regional brands out of a sense of nostalgia, which Putnam said was helpful in reducing the anxiety many men feel while shopping.

Among other observations Putnam made were that male fill-in shoppers often preferred self-checkout, and that many men disliked carrying loyalty cards or related items on their key rings, finding them cumbersome.

Some of the suggestions offered by Putnam to retailers on how to make the shopping experience better for men shopping alone were provide better store directions for men through such methods as maps and item locators (many men said they liked using kiosks as well); rationalize adjacencies by maintaining better stock levels; make "bigger and bolder statements" in such areas as displays, to capture men's attention; and make sure that buildings don't block cell phone signals, so men call home for clarification as much as necessary.

In these ways, retailers can meet male shoppers' needs by showing that they share their view of grocery shopping as "a matter of comfort and convenience," as Putnam described it.