The percentage of men making mobile purchases is nearly the same as women."

Those working in the retail and consumer goods industry are very familiar with the “time-strapped, family-centered, value-seeking, busy mom” target audience. These women make or heavily influence nearly every purchase decision for their families — right?

Not anymore. The differences between male and female — and mom and dad — shopping behaviors are closing, obliterating age-old consumer stereotypes. In fact, men have matched or surpassed women in several measurable shopping behaviors, such as trip frequency and e-commerce engagement, according to “The Rise of the New Male Power Shopper” by First Insight and several subsequent reports.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Men are more likely to be frequent shoppers online and on than women, and more men than women predict their shopping on Amazon will increase.
  • The percentage of men making mobile purchases is nearly the same as women.
  • Men are more likely than women to shop six or more times a month across most traditional retail channels, including mass department stores, specialty stores, luxury stores, off-price stores and Walmart.
  • Men are embracing technology for shopping and research more than women. For example, male respondents reported higher overall ownership of smart speakers and use of these speakers for researching product prices has increased for men, while staying constant for women.

Men today are more involved with their children’s lives than any previous generation and report being a parent is central to their identity, according to Gartner’s “Use Distinct Marketing Strategies to Reach Diverse Dads.” Fatherly parental values are evolving from a place of financial and physical protection and providence, to those historically seen from moms, such as the importance of work/life balance and creating meaningful shared experiences.

Naturally, this increase in overall involvement has led to movement in father-led shopping duties. While women still hold the title of primary shopper, the divide in shopping duties is predicted to reach 50-50 in years to come.

Further, nine out of 10 men say they have some or a lot of influence over family purchase decisions, according to Gartner. This suggests that while dads aren’t yet leading the way in weekly grocery stock-up trips, their pre- and post-shop influence is heavy and must be considered.

Resonating with dads can create opportunities to sway the entire household. Yet, seven out of 10 dads feel unrepresented or misrepresented by the images and messages depicting families in marketing and media, Gartner noted.

How Men Shop

It’s not enough to merely recognize dad’s presence in-aisle. Brands must take the necessary steps to differentiate the attitudes and behaviors of fathers from mothers, from single males and from each other.

There are key emotional and tactical differences in the way males and females, and mothers and fathers, shop. Shoppers are often classified as one of two distinct shopping mentalities: hedonic or utilitarian. Generally, women skew towards hedonic, which is more subjective and personal, with an emphasis on the shopping journey and experience. The majority of men subscribe to the utilitarian shopping approach, which is functional, practical and goal-oriented.

What’s more, research shows men tend to have gender-specific purchase drivers and shopping behaviors, including:

  • A higher affinity toward convenience-oriented products, services and marketing solutions, such as meal kits and meal planning and prep assistance, subscription boxes and bundled offerings.
  • A tendency to do more pre-shop research and preparation, including giving attention to ratings, reviews and price comparisons. Men spend more time and effort in the beginning of the purchase journey, with less browsing and discovery on the back end.

The changing roles of men and women, and moms and dads, bring new opportunities for every brand marketer and retailer paying attention — and difficulties for those who don’t.

Elizabeth Fogerty
Strategy Lead
Advantage Unified Commerce, Advantage Solutions

Liz Fogerty is a 25-year advertising and marketing veteran who has spent the past 16 years focusing her attention and expertise on advising consumer packaged goods makers on how to win at retail.

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