Monday January 14, 2013
Rise of the ‘mansumer’
One Man's Meat
By PHILIP GOLINGAI
This is a new breed of male shoppers. According to BPN, the chief buying officer for households is now the man of the house who makes a majority of purchase decisions.
IN an upmarket supermarket in Subang Jaya, a 30-something metrosexual held a grocery list as long as Umberto Eco’s novel, The Infinity of Lists. Like a speed reader, he went through his list.
In 30 minutes, he was done and he pushed his packed shopping trolley to a restaurant in the supermarket where his bored tai tai wife waited. Introducing the “mansumer” (man + consumer), a term coined by BPN, a global media agency network, in its 2013 Retail Trends Report.
A mansumer is a new breed of male shoppers. According to BPN, in the United States, the Chief Buying Officer for households is now the man of the house who makes a majority of purchase decisions.
“Forty per cent of men are now the primary grocery shopper in the household, 44% of men say they equally share in house-cleaning and a whopping 86% of men agree that being a man equals doing what is necessary to keep the household running,” said Liz Ross, BPN North America president and co-author of the report.
The recession in the United States created mansumers.
“At the height of the recession, unemployment was more than 2% higher for men. Whether by choice or by need, men are now in charge of childcare, shopping and household activities, and they embrace their new role and the impact they can make,” wrote Ross.
The mansumer with the list was shopping at my favourite supermarket, Jaya Grocer, at Empire Shopping Gallery.
On Tuesday night at the supermarket, I had a chat with Wilson Ooi, Jaya Grocer manager, and Ron Lim, Lamborghini Kuala Lumpur sales manager and a publicity-shy retail doyen.
“Do you see a mansumer trend in Malaysia?” I asked as I stabbed into a Wagyu steak purchased raw at the supermarket’s butchery and grilled at its al fresco cafe.
“There’s a growing shift, but not a seismic shift. We have found that more and more men are shopping in supermarkets,” said Ooi.
“A decade ago, perhaps 10% of supermarket shoppers were male. Now, the figure has risen to 30%.”
“I know a husband who does the shopping,” said Lim. “He’s my neighbour. Nowadays, you need two incomes to sustain the family. And his wife is so busy with work that the husband has to do the shopping.”
He added: “I’m old-fashioned. My wife is a housewife so she does the shopping. And I’m not fussy with what she cooks.”
Ooi opined that the mansumer trend in the country was the result of Malaysian males studying abroad.
“Overseas, they are forced to cook and pick up the habit of going grocery shopping,” said the 58-year-old who has been in the supermarket business for 28 years.
“My generation only knows to go home and ask mummy or wife: ‘What’s for dinner?’”
According to the 2013 Retail Trends Report, men shop differently.
“For men, shopping activity is more functional than emotional, and the purpose is to solve a problem or meet a need. To them, the priority is convenience and, most of all, that their ability to make informative decisions is met,” it reported.
“What is the difference between male and female shoppers?” I asked.
“Men are not into details,” said Ooi. “A woman can take 10 minutes to pick an apple whereas a man will not inspect every centimetre of the fruit,” he said.
Men, according to Ooi, were also risk-takers.
“Men don’t worry about cholesterol. They will eat what they want to eat. But a woman is more health-conscious,” he said.
Female are also more “calculative”, Ooi noted.
“When a man takes two packets of a product, his wife would say ‘put one of them back’,” he said.
Lim, the luxury car sales manager, nodded and grinned.
“Men don’t care about price. They don’t remember how much they paid for something they bought. If you ask me how much is the price of a teh tarik, I don’t know,” he said.
“But women function on a micro level. They know the price of something that they bought 10 years ago.”
While women are browsers, men are buyers, according to the report.
“So with the rise of mansumerism, we should begin to see a change in the standard advertising and marketing practices and even, potentially, retail store layouts,” it said.
Myself? I can’t wait for a man aisle (a section dedicated to dude items) to be opened in my favourite supermarket. Beer, anyone?
> Philip Golingai can be reached at email@example.com.