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It's Time to Give Men Respect in the Aisle

Author: Phil Lempert

The Independent View

Phil Lempert

It's Time to Give Men Respect in the Aisle  

 October 18, 2012 


Take a look around your IGA. No matter where you are in the country, it's likely you are seeing more men in the aisles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 41 percent of men prepare meals at home—versus about half that amount in 2003. And it appears this trend will endure, since the middle-aged and younger men of today are more food-involved than earlier generations.

"Generation X adults view life as a smorgasbord and have a little bit of everything in terms of food," Jon Miller, author of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, and director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, recently told TIME Magazine. In the same vein, the University of Michigan's research found that Generation X men cook about eight meals a week and buy groceries more than once a week.

So what does this all mean to you? Simply put, there's an opportunity to expand your marketing to focus on food-savvy male shoppers. To capitalize on their expanding food roles, however, it will take more research of many male aspects. A few examples: How do they compare with women in terms of patience, trip and meal planning, impulsiveness, receptivity to marketing messages, wanting to satisfy every member of a household, willingness to shop for value, compare deals, and shop at multiple stores? And most importantly how do your IGA and your associates meet their needs?

Now before we shift all our attention to the male shopper, let's remember, we need balance in marketing. The key is to respect both genders and offend neither one—an approach that will gain the most traction in the years ahead.

There is no question men should be marketed to more, and sophisticated messages should go beyond football and sex appeal and refer to other aspects of their lives—like health, for instance, which some IGA members and manufacturers have begun to do. How about working with your local clinic or hospital to offer a limited number of free screenings for accelerated PSA protein levels, body mass index and blood pressure? Or holding in-store clinics and tours that help the two-thirds of men who according to a recent survey of the Men's Health Network consider themselves "not knowledgeable" about calorie intake and the potential negative effects of high-sodium diets?

As an IGA retailer, with the freedom to market how you see fit, your options are unlimited. The time is now to use your unique position in the industry to build a relationship with these important customers.


Phil Lempert