Where’s aisle five? Never mind, I’ll find it: More men the primary grocery shopper

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

NPD Group: more men the main grocery shopper
In yet another indication of the shifting US consumer landscape, men are the primary grocery shoppers in four out of 10 households across the country, according to a report by market research firm The NPD Group. 

Sixteen percent of those households with males as the primary shopper have only one person, reflecting a wider trend toward more individualized US consumption behavior as more consumers of all ages live alone. According to the US Census Bureau, 27% of households now consist of one person—the highest level in US history.

“We looked at those who said they are doing more than half of shopping for the home,”​ Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst, told FoodNavigator-USA. “So these results tell us that men are some of biggest customers going through grocery stores. By and large, the majority is still women, but four in 10 is huge.”

Seifer noted that there isn’t one particular age group that dominates the trend, adding that it’s key for manufacturers and retailers to understand and cater to different male age groups.

“You have younger males starting off their lives and you also have seniors at other end of spectrum who may be widowers, for example. The needs of each of those groups of men are actually very different. younger men are just trying to figure out what to make, and they don’t have many skills yet so convenience is important to them. At the older end of the spectrum, men are looking out for health issues, such as heart health—so the foods they’re picking are very different.”

Food and beverage CPG marketing is still heavily geared toward women, and Seifer noted that manufacturers and retailers are missing key opportunities to directly address men—particularly through making the shopping experience more convenient.

I think there are opportunities for retailers and manufacturers alike to maybe tweak the way they do things to cater to more men coming in and out of stores or talk more directly to them,” ​he said. “I myself hate to ask for directions, so making store navigation easier to do would certainly be helpful​.”

NPD found that convenience plays a greater role overall in homes with men as the primary shoppers than those in which women are the primary shoppers. This could be partially attributed to the fact that men (particularly younger and single men) are more likely than women to consider grocery shopping a chore. Still, it bodes well for prepared food manufacturers, as more male primary grocery shoppers buy them because they 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 female grocery shoppers. Not only that, but men are less likely to bring children grocery shopping, and thus tend to be less influenced by children’s opinions on what to buy, NPD found. 

Gender also comes into play in the use of grocery lists. Around eight out of 10 people use a grocery list when shopping at least some of the time, but the degree to which men and women use a list varies. Women rely more heavily on their lists than men and use paper lists more. However, both genders use electronic lists on a phone or tablet equally, especially those shoppers between 18 and 34 years old, according to the report.

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