Gentlemen, Start Your Carts

22 03 2012

My Dad was always the Purchasing Agent for our family. Maybe it was the accountant in him. Maybe it was because Mom didn’t like to do it. But for whatever reason, in our home, Dad was the one who brought home the bacon.


Strangely, though, doing the marketing has been a traditionally female preoccupation…until now. One recent study shows that men and women are in a dead heat when it comes to procuring the domicile’s groceries.

But the two are not at all alike in how they shop.

Men tend to be mission-driven. It’s a job to be done, and we are going to do it with ruthless efficiency…kind of like the way we shop for pants and shirts. Get in. Get out. Minimize the pain.

That also makes men easy marks. Men are not as likely to use coupons, and are often more likely to make impulse purchases. Heck, I could tell you dozens of stories of Mom excoriating Dad over and over for bringing home that dang coffee cake that wasn’t on the list.

Supermarkets have taken note. Items that appeal to men are being featured more prominently, and in more depth…things like beef, men’s personal care products and outdoor grilling items. Oh, and the beer selection. For you Amarilloans, just stop by the United store on 45th at Bell. Their craft beer selection exceeds that of many liquor stores.

Groceries do have a way to go, though, when it comes to catering to men. A few months ago I noticed I had a hole in the side of one of my socks. Not wanting to look less than professional around the office, I scurried across the street to the Canyon United to try to find a replacement pair. But all they had was pantyhose. No sale. I finished the day “holier” than they and thou.

This would be an easy fix for the truly male-friendly grocery, you know. We only need three colors (black, navy and brown), and for most of us, one size fits all. The maker of L’eggs should have it so easy. Three pegboard hooks, one for each color. That’s all we need. Of course, this probably explains why the men’s section in department stores is also small. Everything is made to work with black, navy and brown.

Still, I am intrigued by this sudden shift in shopping behaviors. I am sure that many women are relieved to have some assistance in this area. And I have always heard that, among singles, the grocery was one of the best places to meet other singles. If anything, it presents new challenges to the grocery industry as they try to make one store serve two equally-sized clienteles. The Beer Cave will work like ants attracted to a picnic, and big slabs of beef steaks will have many guys beating their chests (well, ahem…not me, since I am vegetarian). Somehow this all needs to work amid the things that attract female shoppers. Good luck there.

Because, while we only need three colors of socks, some of us (read: me) demand 150 or more varietals of beer (did I tell that I am a beer snob?). It’s going to take some time to figure out how to make this all happen, but I am sure they can make the supermarket a happy place for men and women alike.

I just hope you don’t go looking at my socks. Hey, I’m doing well to just be wearing clothing on any given day, much less clothes that match and are in perfect working order. I get bonus points if it all comes together right.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to have a word with the beer steward.

Dr “Sock It To Me” Gerlich



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