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The Gender Neutralization of Shopping Patterns


The days of Suzy Homemaker-esque women pushing grocery carts down store aisles are a relic of the past. Today, the how, when, who and where of grocery shopping could not be more varied.

Significant cultural and societal evolvements have sparked new shopping patterns and gender roles. According to a recent report by Food Marketing Institute (FMI), this has caused a shift from a “Primary Shopper Paradigm” to a “Shared Shopper Paradigm.”

Rather than one person doing all the shopping and food prepping, households are splitting up and syncing the responsibilities. What does this mean for food retailers? Primary shopper-centric marketing and retailing methods must evolve to be inclusive of a whole spectrum of modern shoppers and their needs. Below are a few methods to get started:

Make your product offerings relevant to specific shopper 'types'

The FMI report shows adults shopping in four different ways: Twenty-five percent are “Self-Shoppers,” meaning they live alone and shop for one. Forty-three percent are “Primary Shoppers” living in multi-person households and claiming grocery responsibilities. “Secondary Shoppers” are the ten percent that say another adult in their house is the primary shopper. The final twenty-three percent are “Shared Shoppers” who share shopping duties between adults, free of any “primary” designations.

These clear shopper types mean each has different resolutions when it comes to procuring and preparing their food.

Take Self-Shoppers, for example. Having quick access to multiple ingredients gives these solo aisle-browsers the “in and out” experience they crave. Placing all the ingredients needed for a specific dish (i.e. guacamole or tacos) near each other allows the shopper to grab and go. Stores that want to discern how their shoppers buy food and other products must account for all these growing shopper types.           

Don’t ignore the rising role of males in grocery shopping

For decades, women have been seen as the lead shoppers but this is simply no longer true. According to FMI’s report, seventy-three percent of men reported completing at least half of their household’s grocery shopping duties. With their more substantial role comes a need for better messaging.

When asked how much influence a source of information had when determining whether or not to purchase an item for the first time, men reported nutrition labels and word-of-mouth held the most clout. To capitalize on this reliance on word-of-mouth, grocer marketers should work with male social influencers to bolster their online presence. Most male influencers have built their social followings by giving tried-and-true advice, often with cooking and grocery shopping included.

For example, popular blogger Review Dad “mourned” the end of grilling season by serving up a simple kebob recipe for bachelors using all products found at Pick-n-Save that any shopper could complete. Easily shareable recipes like this fuel the word-of-mouth that drives male shoppers to your specific store for your specific offerings. Take the guesswork out of grocery shopping by giving male shoppers the quality (yet quick) food ideas they are looking for.

Final note: The days of women being the sole undertakers of grocery shopping and other unpaid housework are no more. As food retailers and marketers start to examine the evolving status of grocery shoppers, it will be crucial to consider both the societal and cultural changes causing the deviation toward Shared Shopping and how these shoppers are formulating fresh ways to maneuver these changes.

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