Men, adventurers by nature, have discovered a brave new frontier called “the grocery store.”
According to a new survey from the anthropologists at Men’s Health, 84 percent of dudes are now “the primary grocery shoppers in their households,” up a full 19 percent from ten years ago. Or at least, that is how men see it: Only men were surveyed, so it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on here. (Most other surveys have women doing slightly more of the shopping.) Regardless, we can safely say that men are doing more grocery shopping than they used to. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this: People are getting married later, so there are more single men floating around. Gender roles are shifting, so men are picking up more domestic labor. Also, some men are actively interested in food! For example, the survey showed that 93 percent of men had prepared a meal for themselves in the past year.
“Men have an active role in each stage of the food purchasing process — before getting to the store, while there, and when cooking the food they’ve bought,” Men’s Health publisher and man Chris Peel told the Washington Post.
Here is the interesting thing, though: These new shopping men shop in their own male way, the survey found. They “tend to buy many items at once,” and to shop alone. But it turns out men are still struggling to adapt to this unfamiliar terrain.
“Men are not terribly strategic,” says David W. Stewart, a marketing professor at Loyola Marymount University. “They walk in and buy what they remember is needed. They’re buying for right now, or maybe tonight. Anything beyond that is too long-term.” Experts in such matters have discovered some things the shopping man likes: expensive meat, name brands, and things that are “easily visible.”
To help them acclimate to their new environment, supermarkets have started to change the way they organize stores, doing things like “grouping meats and barbecue sauce together” or “displaying wine glasses alongside bottles of wine.” This is all in the service of making things easier to find since men, Paco Underhill, chief executive at the behavioral-research firm Envirosell explained, “tend to get easily frustrated.”
“Men tend to be hunters: They want to kill something quickly, drag it out and feel successful,” Stewart said. And, apparently, these days shopping men feel very successful (even if grocery stores have to be redesigned specifically to make them feel that way). As Stewart says, “Men think they’re great shoppers.”