Women still dominate retail buying power

04/11/2013 11:17:00 AM
Tom Karst

You have come a long way, buddy, but a recent Nielsen study shows that U.S. women still control most expenditures at grocery stores and other retail outlets.

The study reports that between 2004 and 2012, women in America reduced the number of trips they made across most retail channels, while men increased their visits to all outlets expect grocery and drug stores. Women dominate shopping trips to the mass merchandiser and dollar store channels, while the Nielsen study found that male shopping trips are of relatively greater importance within convenience/gas, grocery and warehouse club outlets.

While family roles have been blurring for years, marketers who overlook the importance of women as produce shoppers do so at their own risk, said Steve Lutz, executive vice president of Nielsen Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill.

Women tend to drive the bigger stock-up shopping trips, as the Nielsen report showed that women outspend males by $14.31 per trip to supercenters and by $10.32 per visit to grocery stores. In 2012, Nielsen reported that men accounted for 37% of grocery shopping trips, unchanged from 2004. Nielsen statistics showed men increased their share of shopping trips to dollar stores from 25% in 2004 to 28% in 2012, while the share of retail shopping trips to mass merchandisers rose from 26% in 2004 to 28% in 2012. Men accounted for 57% of trips to convenience/gas stores in 2012, up from 54% in 2004.

Considering the strong position women hold in all retail channels, the Nielsen report said advertising messages must resonate with females.

“Layering emotional decision-making opportunities with rational information will increase purchase intent and will have strong sticking power,” the report said. Because women value social harmony, the report said messaging should be positive and not focus on negative comparisons or associations.

For fresh produce marketers, Lutz said branded products offer the best opportunity to target messaging. He cited the example of merchandising produce with the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness as one targeted effort.

“There are plenty of organizations out there that are trying to get close to their customers, but it is challenging to do,” he said.

Lutz said women will continue to control an increasing part of the country’s wealth going into the future. “If you look at the composition of college enrollment, where you have large number of colleges where the majority of the student body is women, that’s fundamentally different than what it was 30 years ago where men dominated,” he said. “That give you a decent insight into the effect that the some of the traditional roles are going to be changing fairly significantly as these generations move out of college and into the labor force,” he said.

At the same time more women are advancing in their careers, increasing numbers of men figure to be moving into more nontraditional roles, Lutz said. Those roles could include staying at home with kids and taking on a bigger role in food shopping trips, he said.



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