The Rise of the Mansumer
This year men are doing more of the shopping, and they're not the befuddled dads TV shows project. They're purposeful shoppers looking for the best deals. This newly emergent breed is dubbed the "mansumer" by IPG Mediabrands agency BPN in its 2013 Retail Trends Report released this week. The report covers emerging trends for the 2012 holiday shopping season, and looks forward to shopping trends for 2013 as well.
Mansumers take advantage of tools like online sites, price comparison engines and mobile apps to make informed purchases. Their buying decisions hinge on ease of purchase and good price.
The Mansumer Economy
Unemployment is more than 2 percent higher for men, according to the shopping trends report, which may explain why more of them are shopping more often. They are now more likely to take charge of household purchases, ranging from daily groceries to consumer goods and holiday shopping.
For day-to-day needs, 40 percent of the men polled said they were the primary grocery shopper, and 44 percent said they took on an equal share of household chores such as cleaning. An overwhelming majority -- 86 percent -- said that being a man means doing what's necessary to keep the household running.
Besides going out for groceries, men are venturing into stores for household and lifestyle items. Men and women shop differently, and it's important for retailers to recognize that men want to get in, buy and get out.
The mansumer is "very functional -- not an emotional shopper," said Doug Johnson, VP of shopping experiences and insights at BPN and co-author of the study.
"He knows what he wants and he's going to get it -- but when he finds the right deal," he told the E-Commerce Times.
For women, shopping can be a more emotional experience, while men tend to be more direct.
"Historically, men don't shop as much as they buy," Michael Burke, cofounder and president of Appssavvy, told the E-Commerce Times. "Men don't like to shop -- they like to figure out what they want and then buy it."
A shift from the get-in-and-get-out attitude is taking place, though, based on the latest research. Male shoppers are using tools such as item locators and price comparison sites to find what they want before going to the store -- or clicking to buy online.
"Before it was see it and get it," said Johnson. "Now it's see it and get it at the right deal."
Many online consumers use a retailer's website to locate items and be sure they are in stock before leaving the house. Mobile consumers armed with smartphones use their devices to scan barcodes and compare prices, or even look up more information while in the store.
With customers moving online and then into the app world, which lets them scan an item on a shelf, compare prices, and even make a purchase on eBay or Amazon almost instantly, the whole shopping experience has become much easier, said Burke.
While one might think finding a bargain would be top of mind for the mansumer, it takes a backseat to convenience.
"I think they do price comparisons," said Burke, "but I don't think price is the only thing men look for. It's ease of buying."
Retailers should take a new approach toward mansumers by replacing the traditional greeting "Can I help you?" with "Let's do this," the BPN report recommends.
Today's male shopper is empowered by technology, Johnson pointed out. "He knows how to use it -- he just might need some help once he gets in the store."
However, if a store employee were to approach him with the standard "Can I help you?" it might send him out the door.
"He'll probably be turned off and go his own way," said Johnson.
A wingman approach might be more effective, he suggested -- adding that stores need more of "I understand, we'll get it done" in their approach toward the mansumer.
Thank You for Shopping
The mansumer needs recognition for a purchase well made, according the BNP report, and retailers should create recognition programs that praise their decision making.
"It's not just at the welcome but at the goodbye as well," said Johnson. "The mansumer really likes this growing recognition of the contribution he makes. He's seeking some validation. Perhaps it's a shift from 'thanks for visiting' to 'you did a great job today.'"