Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer Group
Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer Group

It appears more men are roaming the aisles of the grocery store these days. In fact, according to Mintel, more than half of men age 18-64 claim to be the primary grocery shopper in their household.

Males in the millennial generation are no exception to this trend with an unabashed, new definition of masculinity and an increased participation in household duties such as cooking, cleaning, childcare and shopping.

A report released in March by The Pew Center finds millennial men are more likely to live with their parents compared to their female peers (40% versus 32%, respectively). For those who have left home, many are experiencing milestones such as marriage and becoming first-time dads.

These developments have led to a shift in the traditional roles young men played in the home, by helping out more while still living in their parents’ house, for instance, or assuming more responsibilities as they get older.

Gen Y males are noticeably more involved in planning meals and grocery shopping compared to older generations, according to Mintel.

With chaotic schedules and time-constrained lifestyles, even activities like shopping for groceries are viewed as quality time spent with family and friends — a priority with this consumer segment.

Barkley, a marketing and communications company, finds 64% of millennial males say they love cooking and among those who are the primary grocery shopper for their household, and 67% even consider themselves expert or creative cooks.

Unfortunately these shifts often appear to be overlooked in retail marketing. Last year an article by Strategy Magazine highlighted this absence with the statement, “Cooking and grocery (shopping) is the last bastion almost exclusively targeted at women.”

Furthermore, holiday retail strategies were cited as an example of antiquated campaigns largely directed at females or moms in particular.

To that end, it’s time an increasing emphasis be placed on male consumers, specifically those in the millennial generation, and their shopping tendencies.

In order to increase their foot traffic, consider the following: The atmosphere in the produce department still largely caters to women.

By reimaging the space with gender-neutral decor and music, eye-catching displays, or themes related to sports or outdoor activities for example, young men might opt to spend time perusing produce.

However, they also like to keep browsing to a minimum, so don’t go overboard. Keep it simple yet inviting so as not to lose their attention to more familiar store departments.

Additionally, they typically shop with a purpose, so fulfilling specific needs with produce items can increase sales.

For example, guys’ enthusiasm for grilling is nothing new. By highlighting the ease of incorporating fruits and vegetables with creative point-of-sale material placed with traditional grilling items, they’re more likely to purchase fresh items.

This, along with full menu ideas and simple preparation techniques, may provide ideas for grilling combinations they might not have thought of otherwise.

Promoting attributes that are attractive to Gen Y men, such as having a high amount of protein or a pronounced flavor, might introduce them to new items such as artichokes or cauliflower.

Much potential also lies in their tendency to go digital. Compared to the average adult, millennial males are much more likely to own a smartphone and consume a notable amount of entertainment through these devices. Digital signs with tips for properly selecting produce or downloadable coupons for smartphones are efficient ways to entice and educate.

Millennial men are adventurous when cooking and novices when it comes to shopping for food. It’s about time they were targeted with information that’s compelling and applicable to their lifestyles.

Garland Perkins writes a monthly column on the produce industry from the millennial perspective. She works in sales and marketing for The Oppenheimer Group in its Los Angeles office.

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