Sports Bar on Aisle Seven

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Sports Bar on Aisle Seven

04/01/2014

A Letter from the President and CEO

Leslie G. Sarasin
"[Retailers] clinging to a plan that exclusively targets the female shopper are missing an opportunity to reach an emerging shopper segment – the male shopper."

The French phrase vive la différence! has long been the rallying cry used to celebrate the differences that exist between men and women. It appears to be time for food retailers to incorporate a bit of vive la différence! into their retail strategy. Those clinging to a plan that exclusively targets the female shopper are missing an opportunity to reach an emerging shopper segment – the male shopper. Understanding who the guys in the aisles are, how they shop and how to appeal to this segment will be crucial to retailer success in the coming years. The rise of the male shopper is just one of the many trends that we will explore June 10 – 13 in Chicago at FMI Connect, the new, annual FMI show experience.

By any measure, the male shopper segment is significant and growing, as substantiated by a number of recent reports. Consumer research in 2011 by ESPN reported that the number of male primary grocery shoppers in households has doubled from 14 percent in 1985 to 31 percent in 2011. BPN, a global media agency, put the number at 40 percent in a 2013 trend report, and additional surveys show up to 51 percent of males may be primary grocery shoppers for their households. Even accounting for potential over-reporting these numbers are worth exploring.

Multiple trends are driving these numbers. Some theorize that more men are working from home or are at home while they seek employment and are taking over a greater share of the household duties. Others point to shifting cultural norms showing that men are marrying later in life and are sharing shopping and cooking duties with their partners. Even the Food Network – once viewed almost exclusively as a "chick channel" – has recognized men's interest in cooking and has featured programming that has broadened the appeal of cooking as a recreational, social, and even competitive activity.

Male shoppers are keeping pace with their female counterparts in number of visits to stores and in visits across channels. In addition, according to the Daymon Worldwide "Men on a Mission" study, 78 percent of male primary grocery shoppers are personally responsible for all groceries purchased for their household. Almost one-third of male shoppers spent more than $50 on their last trip and, in a point to remember, 50 percent of their shopping trips were at traditional grocery stores.

John Gray's popular 1992 book "Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" pointed out how men and women approach work, relationships and arguments differently. It follows that there would be differences in the way the two genders shop. To successfully reach male shoppers, these differences of when, where and how they shop must be understood.

Again, according to the Daymon Worldwide research, men are less likely to rely on a list – or if they have one, it is more likely to be a mental list. Male shoppers are also less inclined to refer to store circulars or look for coupons. They tend to shop alone and often look for something other than nationally branded products. Whether they seek products to entertain, to fit their busy lives, to aid healthy choices, or to simply satisfy specific cravings, they will respond to the right messages. Delivering the right experience for male shoppers while still meeting the needs of the female shoppers will be increasingly important in this diverse environment.

I hope you will join me June 10th in Chicago at FMI Connect, where in the presentation, The World is Not a Stage, It's a Grocery Store, I will have more to share about reaching the male shopper and will delve into many more pertinent shopper trends. Vive la différence!