An NPD Group research project has confirmed that men are more
often the primary shopper in their households than they once were,
but they accomplish the task a bit differently than women and
approach it with different attitudes.
Anecdotal evidence, as simple as one's own observation,
seemingly points to a growing trend of more men doing the grocery
Darren Seifer, an NPD food and beverage industry analyst, said
that research group had heard the same supposition and set about to
quantify the belief with data. During May and June, researchers for
the NPD Group interviewed almost 3,000 adults about their grocery
shopping habits and produced NPD's The New Grocery Shopper.
"We found that 41 percent of men and 59 percent of women claim
they are the primary shopper for their households," he said.
This compares to a study done by the consumer research firm GfK
MRI and an ESPN report in 2011 indicating that 31 percent of men
nationwide were the primary household grocery shoppers that year,
up from 14 percent in 1985. This represents a 33 percent increase
in three years and a 200 percent increase over the past 30
This is partly explained by an increase in single-person
households. Sixteen percent of the men in the NPD research said
they are shopping for one-person households, while 12 percent of
the primary women shoppers were in this category.
Still, the research clearly points to more men doing the
shopping and controlling more of the grocery dollar than ever
Interestingly, Seifer said the research did not show much of a
statistical difference based on age. While it has been reported
that households consisting of millennials are more apt to share
household duties than older Americans, the research showed that men
in every adult age group are handling the primary shopping in
fairly equal percentages.
Seifer reiterated that the survey was based on conversations and
not observations, and consequently perception and reality sometimes
For example, many respondents indicated that the shopping duty
for their particular household is split between the man and the
woman in the household.
In this category, 54 percent of the men said the shopping duty
is shared evenly. However, 61 percent of the women who say
they share this duty with the man in their household claim to do
the lion's share.
There is also a difference in the perception of the
activity. Men generally view shopping as a chore that they
are interested in accomplishing quickly, while more women view it
as an activity that allows for some leisure contemplation,
including "shopping" aisles that are not on their shopping
However, women use a shopping list more often than men, and
women also spend a significantly higher amount of money than men on
the average trip. Women spend an average of $97 on each shopping
trip while men lag behind at $83.
For the produce department, the news that men are shopping more
often is not necessarily good news. Seifer said that during their
respective trips to the market, 84 percent of the time women buy
fresh produce. When men are doing the primary shopping for their
households, they buy produce only 68 percent of the time.
On the other hand, men shop the prepared foods sections more
often than women. Convenience appears to play a bigger role for men
and may point to increased opportunities for marketers of fresh
produce and other items that could be packaged more
When examining the foods and beverages in homes in which the
male is the primary grocery shopper, convenience plays a greater
role than those homes in which women are the primary shopper,
according to the report.
Prepared foods are purchased more often by male primary grocery
shoppers, affording them the opportunity to acquire foods that
require little to no effort. Male grocery shoppers are also less
interested in the consumption of better-for-you foods or avoidance
of certain foods than are women grocery shoppers.
"A deeper understanding of each male shopper age group is
necessary for companies that want their messages and products to
appeal to men," said Seifer.
But that could be well worth the effort as the 41 percent of
households with a male being the primary grocery shopper represent
more than 40 million households.
Seifer said the take-home message is that while men are doing
more shopping, they appear to be doing it "begrudgingly."
He said it would behoove marketers and retailers to cater
messages and service to this group of shoppers who are more
interested in getting in and out quickly than in "shopping" every
aisle. He suggested that an app that tells the male shopper exactly
what aisle the product he is looking for is on might be very useful
- and it might attract that shopper back to that store.
"Just as there are slow shifts in consumption behaviors over
time, so are there slow shifts in who does the grocery shopping,"
said Seifer. "While men make up more than their fair share of
people who say grocery shopping is a chore, the fact remains that
they're doing it more often, which means that different dynamics
are coming into play."
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