By Jeff Wilson, APR (@wilson0507)
I love to cook. I would never describe myself as a “foodie,” but I enjoy cooking. I find it mildly therapeutic. After a long and stressful day at work, I enjoy going home and whipping up a tasty meal. On weekends, when I have more time, I enjoy cracking open a few cookbooks and planning out a few meals, then heading down to my favorite grocery store for my weekly shopping.
In these belt-tightening economic times, cooking is more than a hobby, it’s a necessity.
To reiterate, I’m a guy. I like to cook. And I like to grocery shop. And apparently, I’m not alone.
A Yahoo! study I read about a few weeks ago found that 51 percent of men surveyed now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households. The study – based on interviews of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64 – contends that dads in particular are roaming the aisles of America’s grocery stores, with about 60 percent of them identifying themselves as their household’s decision maker on packaged goods, health, pet and clothing purchases.
The Yahoo! study also indicates that men are avid information seekers, and they conduct much of their product research online. For men, product review sites and ads were the top two online resources for finding out about products and services. And much of the information men researched online related closely to home life.
According to a June 2010 Kelton Research study, the top three topics men research online are technology (60 percent), food or cooking (55 percent) and how to build, repair or care for things in the home (53 percent).
For decades, conventional marketing wisdom has relied on the fact that grocery stores and most other shopping destinations are the domains of women. But men’s changing roles in society may be calling some of that conventional wisdom into question.
“The Great Recession has thrown millions of men in construction, manufacturing and other traditionally male occupations out of work and by extension into more domestic duties. At the same time, gender roles were already changing anyway, with Gen X and millennial men in particular more likely to take an active role in parenting and household duties,” according to an Ad Age article.
Anecdotally, I know tons of Gen X and millennial dads who see themselves as equal partners with their wives when it comes to taking care of household duties and childrearing. Couple that with the number of single men, who are taking longer to get married, and divorced men, who must now take care of households on their own, it’s no wonder more than half of men surveyed consider themselves the primary grocery shoppers.
With so many men professing to be their household’s primary grocery shopper, why do marketers continue to marginalize us? According to Yahoo!, only 22-24 percent of men surveyed felt that advertising in packaged goods, pet supplies or clothing speaks to them.
For marketers, some of it is out of habit. Some of it is laziness. The Monday following the Super Bowl, the “Today Show” had advertising executive Donny Deutsch on reviewing the advertising winners and losers from the Big Game. In an almost throwaway comment, he mentioned how some of the ads continue to portray men – particularly young men – as hapless buffoons or the punch line.
Perhaps it’s because marketers may not be buying that men are spending more time in supermarkets and department stores, or perhaps men weren’t completely truthful in the survey when it comes to their roles in the home.
Lauren Weinberg, director-research and insights for Yahoo!, acknowledges that could be possible. But she said the fact that so many men now see themselves as primary grocery shoppers not only reflects real societal shifts but also means any stigma once attached to men as shoppers is fading fast.
In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” It’s time for marketers to change too.