Nearly 80% of grocery shopping decisions taken by men, says study

For packaged food products, 91% men take the call on what to buy, while for beverages, the figure is 92%, says a report


According to Mehta, Indian male shoppers do not stick to the lists given by their wives or mothers. Photo: Mint
According to Mehta, Indian male shoppers do not stick to the lists given by their wives or mothers. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: They’re often caricatured as couch potatoes, but when it comes to household shopping, Indian men dominate the grocery aisles, finds a new survey.

More Indian men than women are taking decisions on buying groceries or at least influencing the purchase, according to a study commissioned by social media firm Facebook and conducted by IMRB International.

About 80% of decisions for buying food and grocery items are taken by men, the study found. In categories such as packaged food products, 91% men take the call on what to buy, while for beverages, the figure is 92%. About 86% of decisions are taken by men when it comes to buying of skin care and hair care products. For oral care, it is about 84% while in home care products, men take about 79% of decisions, the study noted.

IMRB conducted the study among 6,000 shopper groups that consisted of one or more shoppers inside 48 store locations—retail chains, self-service store and general trade or kirana stores—in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Indore and Ludhiana. It also surveyed 1,700 men online.

“While mothers and women are traditionally responsible for shopping for household items ranging from food, laundry, cleaning products to personal grooming, today’s Indian male goes grocery shopping almost as much as women. It’s a clear indication of their rising interest in the overall family well-being and impact on purchasing habits,” said Kirthiga Reddy, managing director, Facebook India.

The IMRB-Facebook study offers a clear indicator to packaged foods and grocery marketers to start targeting men instead of women in their communications.

Interestingly, actor Shah Rukh Khan plays the decision-maker in online grocery firm Big Basket’s latest television commercial, choosing and ordering groceries. “Ghar pe yeh hi to mera role hya” (This is my role in the house), says Shah Rukh Khan, the male protagonist in the commercial.

“Online grocery sales is still very small. But the study shows what the marketers should target. Indian men are changing and they are getting more involved than ever. Today, you can’t ignore men, even if you market a household product. So, marketers should design their communications accordingly,” said Hemant Mehta, senior vice-president, IMRB.

The men in the survey were from both nuclear and extended nuclear families, aged 25-44 and from double income families. Nearly 42% of these are graduates. Interestingly, four out of every five male shoppers are married, the study noted.

According to Mehta, Indian male shoppers do not stick to the lists given by their wives or mothers. They take informed decisions and are open to trying out new brands, he added. “Almost half end up spending more than they intend to when they shop in a supermarket,” the study said.

There are several factors pushing this change in men. For a start, it is the educated wife who is demanding that the man shares more time and more of the daily workload, said PepsiCo India chairman and chief executive D. Shivakumar. But that is not all.

There is plenty of choice, too. For instance, there are brands that are for men or promise a benefit based on an individual need like a skin type or a hair type or a ready-to-eat food with a particular flavour, Shivakumar added. “Hence, we see more men in the shopping aisles today. Men as shoppers are more indulgent with their children and the wife. Impulse and indulgent brands should do better with the new male shopper,” he said.

With the rise in online shopping and growth in digital media, Facebook has an advantage with a wide reach of about 75 million monthly users (male), which is about 60% of its total users in India, for more targeted communications for the marketers.

“The research has busted several myths. For example, we are witnessing a change in the role men play in the household. They are willing to share the responsibility of visiting the kirana store or supermarket, and even enjoy the process of buying a range of products from categories as diverse as laundry care to food and beverages. Such insights help marketers build relevant strategies for reaching out to their consumers,” said C.V.L. Srinivas, chief executive officer (South Asia) at advertising agency GroupM.

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