Grocery shopping like a man

Men are taking over grocery stores.

The Chicago Tribune today reports on a movement to make it easier for men, now that surveys suggest they’re doing more grocery shopping. The paper cites surveys showing 31 percent of men are the principal grocery shopper now, more than double what it was in 1985.

So merchandisers, like Proctor & Gamble, are creating “man aisles.”

The man aisle puts all men’s products, including P&G competitors, in one place, with shelf displays and even small TV screens to guide men to the appropriate skin-care items. Jones said the tests have gone well, with men spending more time in the aisles and, ultimately, more money.

On the food side, Barry Calpino, vice president of breakthrough innovation at Kraft Foods, said the company selected several products to market to men in 2011, with solid results. The Northfield-based company developed, packaged and marketed MiO, bottles of liquid flavor droplets to make water more enticing.

“Guys, when it comes to shopping and cooking, they love to customize and add their own personal touch,” Calpino said, adding that the interest also extends to beverages.

Bottles of flavored droplets to make water “more enticing?” Guys!

Apparently, men simply shop differently — more slowly, less organized.

The mindset has been that she shops, she really knows every inch of the store, she is really organized, has a list, is in a huge hurry,” Calpino said. “We talk to a lot of these millennial guys about shopping, and the biggest headline is they’re not as structured, not as hurried, much more experimental, more adventurous.”

Men are more likely to buy on impulse, one expert says, because. “they have a little brighter outlook on the economy and their finances…”

That’s a somewhat surprising analysis given that the paper says one of the reasons more men are grocery shopping these days is because they’ve lost their jobs and have more time to do so.

  • As the primary grocery shopper in our family for the last 6+ years, I’m a bit insulted that us guys seem naive when it comes to shopping. Speaking for myself, I will buy on impulse, if it’s clear I’m getting a deal, or can use a coupon.

    When money was really tight a couple years ago, I was spending lots of time clipping and organizing coupons, going over the weekly ads, and spending $30 on $100 worth of groceries. I only bought what I knew would be used.

    I don’t spend that much time and effort on it anymore, but will fill the shopping cart with 1$ bags of frozen vegetables, or other deals that I have learned to take advantage of from that experience.

    Also, as far as experimentation, I’m not a real adventurous eater, so I tend to play it safe when grocery shopping. But my wife might buy something because it is different and ‘looks good’.

    It would be interesting to hear more about the effect places like Costco has had on grocery stores. My wife loves going there (I hate it) but a significant part of our grocery bill goes there most months now.

  • Cara

    My ex husband did most of our shopping too, using coupons etc. He always knew, to the penny, how much a gallon of skim milk was at each store he went to. He went to Sam’s and Costco for a while but stopped because the impulse purchases were so much more enticing. Much more savvy shopper than me. I know what to get based on the menu I’m planning.

    And the idea of an aisle for man products? Weird. Just plain weird.

  • Being without someone of the fairer gender in my life, I shop alone and by myself. I have to.

    I plan, plot, use coupons, scan sales.

    I don’t need a man aisle.

  • Mark Gisleson

    This is absolutely the biggest crock of nonsense I’ve ever read. If men grocery shop more slowly, it’s only because they’re more reluctant to knock over seniors who’ve spent their lives perfecting the art of completely blocking an aisle with their cart.

    * Men are less likely to delay the checkout experience with a handful of coupons, half of which are only good at other stores.

    * Men do not freak out claiming an item was on special (yes, last week but only if you brought in the coupon).

    * Men enter a grocery store with only one objective: getting out as fast as possible.

    * Men abandon 53% fewer carts in the parking lot, and are less likely to circle the lot trying to get a better spot. (I park at the far end and walk, saving the closer spaces for the emotional cripples who need that little victory.)

    * Men don’t group shop, walking side by side so as to block all other pedestrian traffic.

    * Men instinctively pull to one side instead of driving down the middle of each aisle.

    * Men do not pull out calculators or read labels. We’re not afraid to pay too much or dying young if it means getting out of the store a few minutes faster.

    Men are faster shoppers because we hate to shop. We’re not better shoppers, but we’re certainly not slowing down other shoppers.

  • John P II

    I’ve noticed the “man aisle” strategy and just think it’s the logical outcome of the growth in male cosmetic and grooming products. My own personal validation was the discovery of Suave’s three-in-one shampoo+ conditioner+bodywash. I always knew you really only needed one kind of soap.

  • John P.

    The “Man Aisle” sounds a little insulting to me. It implies that we can’t manage shopping in the big confusing grocery store. I put it in the same category as those pink tool sets and tackle boxes for the ladies. They are usually full of poor quality lures and tools. Yuck.

    Also … moisturizer for men? Guys! Guys! You are supposed to culitvate a rugged look, not a soft and supple look. Double Yuck.

  • Alison

    Suave’s three-in-one shampoo+ conditioner+bodywash: It also works great for toilet bowls, grout, vinyl siding, golf balls, fuel injectors…

  • Jamie

    Mark Gisleson, you probably won’t see this cuz it’s been a couple days, but you sound like one sexist, over-generalizing, stereotyping dude.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Jamie, and the article to which I was responding wasn’t?

    Also, I’m not sure, but I suspect I cribbed half of my earlier post from buried memories of old Erma Bombeck columns.

  • Tyler

    Speaking as both the man and grocery shopper in my family, I agree with most of what Mark says, and disagree with almost everything in the article. I buy what’s on my list, only impulse a little something that will surprise the wife, and get out of the store as fast as possible.