STUDY: The ‘Honey-Do’ List is No More; Men Take Primary Responsibility for Household Shopping

man-in-grocery-storeThe reigning (and laughably antiquated) stereotype of a man in a grocery store looks something like this: a dude with a detailed, doomed-to-be-ignored list from his wife shoved unceremoniously in his pocket as he bypasses the vegetable isle to load up his cart with beer, condiments, and maybe a few slabs of meat to slap onto the grill, taking zero stock of labels, nutrition, food origin or even marketing.

Meanwhile, a new study by Defy Media, the Acumen Report: Brand New Man, paints an entirely different picture.

The survey, which took into account the responses of 2,000 men ages 18-49, revealed that 65% of men hold primary shopping responsibility for several household product categories, with 67% saying they actually enjoy shopping for the household.

This is particularly good news for marketers, as the results also showed that 63% of men are open to choosing new brands, and the way they go about doing so leaves plenty of room for companies to engage and impress them. As the report states, “When men are compelled to seek a new brand, they don’t just reach for the closest or cheapest one—they’re looking for the one.” To find it, they employ four identifiable steps that can be described as the four E’s.

Exposure: This first step is usually triggered by a life-change, like moving out of their parents’ house, hitting an age milestone, starting a family, etc., basically something that reminds them they need to start taking stock of how they take care of themselves.

Education: This is the stage at which men “play the field” by narrowing a wide range of choices to a short list with the potential to meet the needs they discovered in the Exposure phase. They also seek brands that reflect what they value and who they are. In order to do this, men are willing to put in a fair amount of work by doing research online (utilizing everything from social media to product reviews), asking the advice of people they trust, and even consulting “experts” like shop workers — men, do ask for directions!

Experimentation: In this phase, men are ready to buy and try the products they identified in the Education phase. There are a few major takeaways that brands would do well to remember when it comes to this stage in the men’s shopping game:

  • First, men love getting a good deal, and they pay attention to sales. That said, a man won’t necessarily buy a product just because it’s on sale — it still needs to fill the needs discovered in the exposure stage.
  • Second, once a brand lets him down, a man is not likely to ever give it another chance.
  • Guys do care about where a product comes from and the story behind it; 49% of respondents agreed with the statement, “I have bought a product because I liked the history or story of the company,” while 50% have bought a product because it was made by a smaller company, and 60% have bought a product of local origin because of where it came from.
  • Lastly, men are paying attention to advertising. In fact, a successful ad has the power to encourage men to skip the Education phase all-together, assuming that ad engagingly and effectively communicates that it can fulfill a need discovered in the exposure phase.

Eureka! Once a man finds “the one,” he is extremely loyal, and he’ll often recommend his go-to products to others, so giving him a platform from which to shout his praises can serve a brand well.

“Men have earned their place as decision makers in the household,” said Andy Tu, Executive VP of Marketing for Defy Media. “In this year’s report, we uncovered the process that men embark on to discover, connect with, and purchase new brands and products. We found that men are not only purchasing in greater numbers, but in many cases they are the ones actually making the brand decisions.” 

So, rather than trying to appeal to his wife, it might be time for marketers to catch the modern man’s eye by giving him a reason to seek a new brand, educating him about products, interesting him at the point-of-sale, and giving him ways to advocate for the brands and products he loves — giving men the credit they deserve as competent, thinking, grown-ups will serve to not only help brands reach new buyers, but also help deconstruct gender stereotypes that no longer reflect today’s society.