Lost in the Supermarket: Men Without Lists
Men are shopping more, but women still make the grocery decisions.
Men and Women in the Grocery Aisles continued...
"Yes, it's true that men tend to go after specific grocery
items while women are more likely to browse," Stewart notes. "But it is
not that males are more decisive. They are basically following orders."
"Men and women probably do shop a bit differently in
grocery stores on average," Mick agrees. "Women probably are less
dominated by a top-down, purposive approach to shopping. They probably would be
a little more exploratory. ... Women in many families are probably still
expected to be the primary procurer of goods for the household. You might say
it serves them in that role to have a wider radar of what is in the store and
what is good for the household."
Marketers -- the people who study and implement retail selling
-- know a lot about how men and women shop. They know who's making the shopping
lists. So they mostly market to women.
"Manufacturers and distributors and grocery stores do a lot
of things to maximize their profit per square inch of shelf and, hopefully, to
increase customer satisfaction," Mick says. "They are not idiots. They
do a lot of research. They track a lot of data. They know who their loyal
customers are. They use this information to set up the store to be
But even the best marketers and consumer psychologists that
money can buy don't ensure that you'll buy everything a supermarket has to
"Do they have this down to a science so that they push
everybody's button all the time? No," Mick says. "It is easy to go to
an extreme thinking that marketers and grocers know things the psychologists
don't even know about getting us to buy things. I don't think they have figured
out things quite that much."
It's a highly competitive marketplace with razor-thin profit
margins. Supermarkets focus on the bottom line, says Wesley Hutchinson, PhD,
the Stephen J. Heyman Professor and professor of marketing at the Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania and past president of the Association
for Consumer Research.