Who Cares That Guys Influence Grocery Purchases?

Discussion
Oct 18, 2013

First off, my apologies to all the hardworking professionals in market research that, no doubt, will object to what I’m about to write. During the normal course of my research for RetailWire, I came across a number of articles pointing to a study which found men have a growing influence on household grocery purchases. Nothing particularly earth-shattering there. It’s well known that modern men, as well as women, are handling duties that once were largely the responsibility of the other gender.

I suppose what bothered me most was the knowledge that, not too long ago, I came across research that quantified the influence kids exert on household grocery purchases. While I can’t recall off the top of my head, I’m confident that it wasn’t too long ago that I read research that showed women continuing to exert a great deal of control over household food purchases.

Simply put, everyone within every household in America has some influence on what gets bought. Heck, in our household, grocery lists include requests for purchases from every member living here. So, if this is true, what is the purpose of research pointing out the influence of one group or another on household purchasing behavior?

In the age of Big Data and one-to-one marketing, maybe this type of research has become obsolete. If so, that begs the question, what should replace it?

Does market research focused on group designations such as gender and age have the same value for retailers and brands that it used to have? What role, if any, does this type of research play in making marketing decisions?

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10 Comments on "Who Cares That Guys Influence Grocery Purchases?"


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Frank Riso
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

It may be time to stop researching the individual shopper in the family and to start to research the shopping as a family. I too get to add things to the grocery list and will at times shop. My shopping is only with a list and my impluse buys should be of interest to marketing research, as should anyone’s. So my vote is to modify the research to the family level with less time spent on the individual.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

George – I’m one of those marketing research professionals you risk pissing off. 🙂 Much of the research you often reference is put out there for PR, not for research per se. We’ve always known, as long as I’ve been doing this (33 years) that various members contribute. At times, marketers and researchers have positioned mom as gatekeeper/decision maker and we learned a while ago that mom may be the shopper, but not the consumer, and may be responding to the will of the consumer.

There’s lots of talk online and at conferences about the difference between consumer marketing and shopper marketing that goes to this question, and that’s why it’s relevant – to know who makes the choice and who to market to.

Warren Thayer
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Gender is probably less important than it used to be, but people do have different shopping habits depending on age, income, ethnicity, etc. So keeping on top of evolving trends in your market would be important so you can more readily understand what’s happening, anticipate change and take appropriate action.

Brian Fletcher
Guest
Brian Fletcher
8 years 6 months ago

Given our business is marketing research, I have to respectfully disagree with the blog here. There is no doubt that each and every person, in some way, has an influence in what is brought into the home. Nobody wants to waste money on food that goes uneaten or clothes that go unworn due to individual preferences. However, it is not that we look at who is influencing the purchase, but what drives influencers to come to the decisions they make.

Men, women and children are hard wired with behavior and values that drive what makes one message/product/service resonate with them while others are ignored. It makes sense for both retailers and marketers to understand these underlying motivations, values and behavior so that positioning, messaging and ultimately, the product/service offering, working as hard as possible to drive preference. In the end, it is not who is an influencer, but understanding why an influencer prefers one product/service over another.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I agree that everyone in a household has some influence on the items that go on a shopping list. What is relevant is who influences the selection of what items. This information can be used to more effectively target that consumer segment.

Regarding the influence men might have, there was an article this week in the USA Today about CPG companies beginning to make selected products more appealing to men. In many cases, this was simply done by changing the packaging to a “manly” color, increasing the size of the product, or changing the wording on the package.

Susan Viamari
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Research focused on group designations, age, gender, etc., has long been a tool embraced by market researchers. Today though, the data and analytic power that exists gets far beyond that 10,000 foot view and into the hearts and minds of consumers at a much more granular level. Both levels of research, the macro perspective and the micro perspective, have their place in marketers’ arsenal. The macro level work provides the context within which marketers can understand the more granular trends.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Remember, there are “shoppers” and there are “consumers.” This article centers around the grocery segment, yet it holds true across product lines. “Shoppers” may or may not be influenced by the products’ ultimate “consumers.” Consumer insights analytics can help determine the appropriate targets, be they male, parents, etc. This needs to be enabled by technologies available today and not driven primarily by gut feel.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
8 years 6 months ago
I always chuckle when we use “gender” instead of “sex.” (“Gender” is primarily a grammatical descriptor having to do with the forms of nouns – you could look it up.) Why don’t we tell it like it is, “sex?” Anyhow, I’ve been of the opinion for a long time that reliable and actionable consumption and purchase behavior research should be conducted primarily by household (HH). Big picture stuff. Broad instead of narrow. I reached this conclusion when I realized that more than one loyalty card could be issued within the same family or HH. There was no way to merge the data from multiple cards, so an incomplete picture was formed. For instance, the man of the house buys milk, so we assume that he drinks milk. B-b-but, he’s lactose intolerant and the milk is for the cat, for which the lady of the house separately purchases cat food using her own loyalty card. This is household purchase behavior, not behavior by sex. By the way, the use of HH data can, for more than… Read more »
Kai Clarke
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

No, it is now more important. With all of the noise of research being done, to support different causes, we still need to respect the research that is created, albeit with a grain of salt….

Roger Saunders
Guest
8 years 6 months ago
Market research based on gender and age is as important as it has always been. Keep in mind that men are not entering marriage until they are, on average, 30 years old. Women are stepping to the altar at an average of 27 years. Many of the Millennial Generation will make the decision to remaining single. That is not to say that males and/or females are not influenced by the opinions of friends and family members. Fully 89% of Millennials, 87% of Generation X, and 86.7% of Boomers say that they regularly or occasionally “seek advice” from friends or family, based on the Prosper Media Behaviors & Influence Study (MBI). Those generations will seek their advice in different fashion. Leading ways for Boomers is Face-to-Face communication, Reading an Article, Telephone, and E-mail. Millennials favor Face-to-Face, Text Messaging, Mobile Devices, and Asking Facebook Friends. Gen X prefers a middle ground – Face-to-Face, Reading an Article, Text Messaging, and E-mail. Continuous learning about the marketplace, especially about the consumer segments with which we trade, is essential. Gender… Read more »
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