September 14, 2009

Time to Acknowledge the Men

More men are shopping in kosher stores these days than ever before. Ask any grocer and the chances are that he will agree that men are increasingly making the decisions of what to purchase and are even into recipes and meal enhancement. Research shows that almost one-third of men are now the principal shoppers in the home. With more men in the aisles, it is time to factor them into the marketing equation. I spoke to a few retailers and distributors and asked them if grocers have made any modifications to their stores to accommodate the men. One said that he had changed his signage to make it easier to negotiate the aisles, “particularly for men with lists.” I sometimes watch men being totally lost looking for baking ingredients, but this retailer felt that younger men today “are quite knowledgeable.” In fact, he noted that when it comes to gourmet items like dips, flavored herrings and sauces, it is the men “who often call the shots.”

Another grocer told me that more and more men are buying takeout. They seem to want “to be in control” of the takeout items that are bought at the store. The interesting thing is that this trend is also true for Orthodox Jewish families, the prime customers for kosher. There appears to be good reasons for that. Either they are part of large families and are doing the shopping to pitch in or are part of the growing cadre of two income families and are dividing the chores.

In interpreting Nielsen data that a third of food consumers are men, many marketers struggle with media messages and even placement, but in the core Jewish markets, the challenge has been simply positioning in the community that in essence appeals to both males and females. In other words, successful positioning of a product is gender neutral and success can be guaranteed with either. When I asked one distributor how to market to the men, he answered: “They are still more apt to buy items that are not necessarily the healthier items; so promoting some of the old fashioned foods as well as the newer gourmet items seems to be a good combination.”