A recent report by the TNS Retail Forward consulting firm finds that men shop "inefficiently." In a related report, it also found that the sun rises in the east, NBA centers tend to be tall, popes tend to be Catholic and nearly all women agree with the conclusions of the men-shop-inefficiently report.
That report, "Men in Grocery Stores," concludes that men have trouble finding the items they want, shun substitutes and hesitate to ask for help. There is also a strong statistical correlation between this finding and one on men driving to places they've never been to before.
In former days, this difficulty with the shopping experience would have been minimized by the fact that it was women who tended to do the shopping for households. Men tended to be confined to the safety zones of the frozen pizza case, the snack aisle and the beer cooler. When anything more elaborate was required, detailed shopping lists were usually provided by women, sometimes with simple pictographs to aid recall.
But the increased number of men living on their own and the expansion of dual-worker households have forced an increasing number of men outside their comfort zones and into alien territory—fresh produce, dairy and even health-and-beauty.
This presents problems for stores and for manufacturers looking to push new products because men tend to hone in on the exact product they decided on before entering the store. And if they don't find it, they won't look for a substitute or ask for help.
They'll just do without. Worst of all, when they are asked at checkout if they found everything, they'll say "yes"!
Stores have begun trying to cope with this phenomenon in a variety of ways. For example, some Stop & Shops in the Northeast are now experimenting with a wireless unit called the Shopping Buddy that is attached to shopping carts. It alerts shoppers to items they might want to check out as they cruise around the store, using loyalty card information about past purchases to determine likely preferences.
Our suggestion: a true "shopping buddy" for guys would simply say, "Know what? Forget this. The ballgame's on and my GPS can locate the nearest sports bar..."
ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID CLARK