Man-centric shopping: Coming to a store near you

Photo courtesy of Micahel Quintanilla, San Antonio Express-News

If you’ve gone grocery shopping lately you might have noticed a change in the grooming aisles; gray and black packaging, clearly labeled sections and easy-to-find items, or maybe a whole new aisle altogether. These cosmetic changes are due to more men becoming responsible for the shopping list—and smart marketers are noticing.

About one-third of primary shoppers in households are men, up from 14% two decades ago (Nielsen). Yet, 40% of men feel unwelcomed in retail stores, and only 22-24% of men felt advertising in packaged goods, pet supplies or clothing spoke to them (Yahoo!). This increase in men taking on the shopping responsibilities is due to the Great Recession affecting male-dominated industries, more unmarried men needing to do their own shopping, and changing gender roles within households. According to a Wharton study, a good shopping trip for men is centered around convenience—the product location and display, how fast they can complete a purchase, and how quickly they can move onto the next task.

Photo courtesy of Charles Brewer -

H-E-B and CVS have partnered with P&G to create a retail environment specifically for men so they would feel more invited to shop for their grooming products. CVS has created a men’s-only prototype aisle in select test stores called ‘Guy Aisle.’  H-E-B named its men targeted aisle the ‘Men’s Zone,’ where men can find all their health and grooming needs in one place, as well as an interactive screen that offers grooming tips and flat screen TVs that feature sporting events. H-E-B reported an 11% growth in male self-care product sales since the launch of the aisles in 2010. Michael Norton, P&G’s director of external relations for male grooming at Gillette, asserts: “Men are buyers, not shoppers. They want to get the shopping done, and with all their grooming needs in one aisle, it makes shopping easier, quicker, and simpler.” Target and Duane Reade are also testing out men-only grooming aisles in the hopes to capture the male market.

Another concept to help men that don’t particularly enjoy shopping was Manland, created by IKEA Australia. It’s the same concept as Smallland, where customers are invited to drop off their children for a limited time while shopping, Manland provides plenty of entertainment for men while their girlfriends and wives roam IKEA. It was only active for a 4-day trial around Father’s Day, but seemed to be a hit with both men and women.

Yet sometimes marketing focused on communicating only to men doesn’t work. An example is Dr Peppers TEN, Dr Pepper’s diet drink containing only 10 calories. The campaign is strongly geared towards men and the tagline states, “It’s not for women.” Dr Pepper was measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which for the men decreased from a score of 21.5 to 16.4 on the day the campaign broke. Even though this campaign was clearly aimed at men, it didn’t positively impact the brand image as hoped. Another downfall of this campaign was its impact on women, with their score during the same period starting at 32.9 and dropping to 18.4 losing over half of its score in one day.

DGWB Perceptive

Brands and marketers need to realize that there might be a man behind the shopping cart more and more these days. As men expand their personal and family responsibilities, in-store expectations grow as well and men want to feel included and respected within the shopping experience. Men appreciate having a catered experience, but with targeted communications one also needs to be careful to not push away women shoppers—still the largest segment. Brands and marketers that embrace the male shoppers as well as females will find the biggest benefit.

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