Men in Grocery Stores: Help!

Of all the domestic responsibilities I took on when I got married, the one that still gives me the greatest irritation is going to the grocery store “to pick up a few items” for my wife. Almost without exception, I return from each trip frustrated, angry, and probably in trouble because I got something wrong.

Apparently I am not alone in this experience. According to a report just released from the consulting group TNS Retail Forward, authored by VP Mandy Putnam, grocery stores are missing out on a major market segment: men.

Many men have difficulty finding items, forego buying rather than risk purchasing a substitute for an item on the grocery list and hesitate to ask for help if they can’t find an item.

As with so many other aspects of male behavior that mystify women, it’s strictly a guy thing:

Unlike women, men tend to hone in on the specific thing they want to buy instead of surveying the entire aisle, consultants said. That can be a problem for manufacturers and retailers trying to promote new products that are the life-blood of packaged food companies.

“They were great at picking out the stuff that they bought before. It’s the new stuff, or something new and different that a manufacturer is trying to promote, that they have trouble with,” said Putnam, who walked along with men as they shopped as part of her study.

Men also tend to bristle at the overwhelming number of choices in grocery aisles, with the cereal aisle being one prime example.

Somehow, after reading this article, I feel vindicated — it’s not just me. Of course, that won’t help much the next time I’m sent to the store “to pick up a few items.” It will be same pain, all over again.

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