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SymphonyIRI examines the male shopper

May 24, 2011
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SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, recently studied the male shopper and found that while there are several attitudinal and behavioral similarities with female shopper behavior, there are several important distinct differences.

“Our research shatters the stereotype of clueless men wandering around a grocery store,” said John McIndoe, senior vice president of marketing for SymphonyIRI, in a statement. “During the recent recession, men adopted money-saving strategies that point to a deliberate and well thought out grocery purchase processes that are worth noting, so that CPG marketers can connect with male shoppers more effectively.”

The SymphonyIRI Point of View highlights the attitudes and behaviors that characterize the male grocery shopper. The following are a few highlights found in the report:

Male shoppers are more likely to resist lifestyle changes, SymphonyIRI data suggests. Difficult economic conditions have prompted consumers to become more conservative and self reliant in many ways. While fewer men are making changes versus women, the ranks of those adapting remain significant. For example, 54 percent of men eat out less often while 27 percent of men go to the doctor less often and are self treating more, the market research firm states.

Shoppers also are stretching their consumer product goods (CPG) dollars by shopping across multiple CPG channels to make their purchases. In addition, scaling back is quite pervasive in the retail store as consumers re-examine their priorities and allocate their limited funds accordingly. Across a range of “scaling back” behaviors, though, male shoppers are showing a lesser inclination to change versus their female counterparts. The disparity is largely explained by the fact that men demonstrate a more optimistic perspective on the economy and personal finances, SymphonyIRI says. A few examples include 35 percent of men shop at multiple stores to find the lowest prices, while 35 percent of men purchase only needed items, rather than stocking up, to keep weekly budget in check.

SymphonyIRI research found that nearly two-thirds of male shoppers are making shopping lists before entering the grocery store. In many instances, these lists are quite detailed. Itemized lists are common for both men and women but are slightly more prevalent among males. A few list-making behaviors include 56 percent of men listed categories to buy such as coffee, frozen pizza, toothpaste, and only 16 percent of men listed specific brands to buy. The market research firm also found that 12 percent of men listed specific private label or store brands to buy.

“Overall, men have adopted a wide range of money-saving rituals and shopping strategies in much greater numbers than the traditional stereotype of the male shopper would indicate,” McIndoe said. “In fact, in many regards, men shop similarly to women. That said, as with any consumer segment, it is the knowledge of nuanced differences that separates the wheat from the chaff. CPG marketers must evaluate the rituals, attitudes and behaviors of male shoppers very closely and understand how these factors impact each aspect of the decision and purchase process for their own categories and brands.”

SymphonyIRI’s new research, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus…or Maybe Not?” highlights findings from an Internet-based, nationally-representative survey of more than 2,200 shoppers from SymphonyIRI’s Consumer Network Panel. This survey was conducted in January as part of SymphonyIRI’s new MarketPulse Survey series.

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