Men Are From Vons, Women Are From Albertsons: There Are Apparently Gender Differences In Grocery Shopping

Can we just go ahead and say that men and women are different and thus do EVERYTHING differently? Because once again, we have yet another bold statement from the Marketing People about buying habits of men and women, this time in the grocery store. (And an aside: can we also just go ahead and refer to everything guys do that women do more of as a “phenomenon”?) According to this recent article in the Chicago Tribune, there is a “growing contingent” (as Grandmaster Melle Mel might say: something like a phenomenon, baby) of men who – are you sitting down? – buy groceries

The article starts out promisingly enough, focusing on one Danny Meyer, a 35-year-old guy who shops at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s; he works as a brand manager for Bimbo Bakeries (how’s that for symmetry?) and does the grocery shopping because his live-in fiance is busy with grad school. We then meet Judson Eakin, who also buys his own groceries, although he doesn’t “live with a girlfriend or anything”. Both provide a startling look at the New Male Paradigm: apparently, when a man’s partner doesn’t have the bandwidth to buy food, or if a man lives by himself, he needs to buy groceries. Why? The research is still being conducted and is inconclusive, but early signs indicate that sometimes men have to buy groceries so that they don’t starve to death.

The article then goes on to reveal that according to research done by Proctor and Gamble, many men are “terribly uncomfortable with the shopping experience”, which would indicate that browsing the cereal aisle looking for Grape-Nuts is something akin to getting a prostate exam. The reason for such discomfort, according to Vice-President of Breakthrough Innovation at Kraft Foods (this is a real title, worthy of the people who invented that ungodly orange powder used to make macaroni and cheese) Barry Calpino, is that women are much more uptight when it comes to buying stuff. “She shops, she really knows every inch of the store, she is really organized, has a list, is in a huge hurry,” Calpino is quoted as saying. Men, on the other hand, are “not as structured, not as hurried, much more experimental, more adventurous.” This doesn’t really jibe with Proctor and Gamble’s findings, and it really doesn’t jibe with my prostate exam metaphor.

But who cares about all that. I was getting a bit worked up over the inherent ridiculousness of the whole thing (“man aisles”? Really?) when I came across this section, which to me is the real story.

“Kraft also scored with men in 2011 by way of its Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Calpino said, which he attributed in part to displaying it near chicken. ”We had a lot of guys who impulsively bought that product, thinking, ‘What can I mix with chicken? I want to try something different,’” he said. Kraft sees opportunity here with its sauces and dressings that are easy add-ons to give meals a twist. Sales volumes of Philly Cooking Creme were 20 percent above expectations in 2011, the company said, after a $35 million investment in advertising, in-store promotions, coupons and product demonstrations.”

Philadelphia Cooking Creme? Is this Soylent Green nightmare fuel something that humans actually eat? Maybe we should be less concerned with who’s doing the buying and more worried about the crap that Big Food is putting on the shelves. That’s probably a losing battle, though. If the Kraft marketing team has their way, look for the first TV commercial for Philly Cooking Creme, starring Philly’s own G. Love and Special Sauce, during this year’s Super Bowl. You know, for the guys.


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