Hunter Turned Gatherer

Surprising shopping habits of the modern man

BELLEVUE, Wash.-- Historically, convenience has been a man’s world. But that world is changing. Targeting female shoppers has been the c-store industry buzz as of late, and according to a Hartman Group study called “Food Shopping in America 2014,” how retailers attract men should change as well.

In short, modern men are shopping differently.

“The stereotype of ‘Bubba’ is no longer relevant given changes occurring within the larger culture of food where we find consumers of both genders, all age groups and a diversity of ethnic heritages seeking fresher, less processed food experiences,” David Wright, senior manager of marketing at The Hartman Group, told Convenience Store Products.

A surprising 43% of men are now the primary grocery shoppers in the household, and men and women make the same number of food shopping trips each month, about 15. They do so in a diversity of channels—grocery, club stores, specialty stores and convenience—and they expect fresher, higher quality products from everyone.

“They also seek new food experiences when searching for snacks and mini-meals that can satisfy immediate-consumption occasions,” Wright said. “This would include products with global flavors.”

Men still buy more meat and alcohol than women do, but they also purchase a substantial amount of produce, sweets and snacks. Wright recommends focusing on promising products such as sliced and dried meats, wraps and sandwiches, as well as nuts, spreads, dried fruits, cheeses, eggs and fresh produce.

One key characteristic of the modern male shopper is his use of what the study calls a “search and retrieve” approach. Men don’t shop sales or plan ahead; rather, they care most about getting in and out quickly.

Some common c-store layouts already cater to this pattern. “This would include designated gondolas and refrigerated areas with fresh and prepared mini-meals and snacks that are convenient and easy to find,” Wright said.

But there are other ways c-stores can do more to adjust to a “search and retrieve” shopping style. Cross merchandizing dried fruits, nuts and dried meats with refrigerated offerings is one idea. “We often see consumers searching around stores combining different types of snacks into a meal,” Wright said. “So in keeping with making male shopper ‘search and retrieve’ missions easier, this is one area that represents an opportunity for c-store operators.”

Click here for more information on The Hartman Group’s study.