All Articles Food Restaurant and Foodservice How to reach the increasingly important male shopper

How to reach the increasingly important male shopper

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

(Photo: Flickr user Amy Jeffries)

Tempting as it is to believe that women still handle most of the household food shopping, and that marketing and merchandising to them is the best way to attract shoppers’ dollars, the reality is more complicated.

Not only are more men shopping – almost half of primary shoppers are now male – but they also shop differently from women. Those differences are worth considering in everything from product selection to store layout.

Men browse less, although they enjoy browsing at club and dollar stores. They tend to shop with a “search and retrieve” method that contrasts with women’s typical “browse and buy” technique. Men go to whatever section they need, consider what’s there and head to the cash register.

As a result, some drug stores have set up special aisles devoted to male grooming products. “The man aisle” includes everything from razors to body sprays to lotions made for men. Sometimes there’s even a flat-screen HDTV.

It’s unclear whether those aisles will be a hit. One man The Hartman Group shopped with prefers women’s hair colors, eye gels and face creams, saying they’re higher quality and cost less.

But the easy-to-retrieve aspect is perfect for people who don’t make lists, which is about half of all men. (About 70% of women make lists.)

The lack of a list should not be confused with a lack of caring. Men are just as interested in quality, and in getting what they want, as women. They simply do not plan as vigorously, preferring to drop by when they need something, find it and get out.

Offering more products that interest them will encourage browsing – and that includes more food than some companies might expect.

Food marketers should remember that just as some men have become primary shoppers, they are increasingly primary household cooks as well – and not just for barbecue. Like women, they are interested in artisan products, ethnic flavors and restaurant-inspired cooking. Men love club stores because of their beer and wine selections, plus the multitude of rotating seasonal treasures, and other stores could take a page from that book.

Men also love a bargain, even more than women. While women often compare shopping to treasure hunting, men refer to “hitting the jackpot.” They think about shopping in terms of “controlling costs” and “being smart.”

The most important step for food companies is to recognize how important men have become as food shoppers and cooks. Men should be considered more often in all phases of food creation, from innovation to marketing to how products are presented in stores.

Male shoppers may represent one of the last untapped frontiers for food companies – and at half the country’s population, they represent a major opportunity.

The Hartman Group, a leading authority on consumer culture, has a reputation among its Fortune 500 clients for translating shifts in shoppers’ behavior into solutions for overcoming growth and innovation challenges. For more information, visit the website The Hartman Group online or contact Blaine Becker, Senior Director of Marketing at or 425-452-0818.

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