In U.S. Men are Shopping More Than Ever, While Women are Watching More TV

In U.S. Men are Shopping More Than Ever, While Women are Watching More TV

Todd Hale, Senior Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Insights, The Nielsen Company

The stats still show that women do the majority of shopping in the U.S., but with men facing a higher unemployment rate than women (8.8% compared to 7.9%, according to a February 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report), more men are at home than in the past and in many cases, they are taking a more active role in household duties. While women continue to dominate shopping trips in all retail channels except for convenience stores, men have increased trip shares between 2004 and 2010 in all retail channels but drug stores.

Nielsen recently took a closer look at the differences in shopping and media behavior between the sexes and found some surprising results.


Women are the biggest spenders per trip, an indication that they are more likely to go on the weekly planned shopping trips for their families. But in many channels, the difference between the spending of men and women is not that great. For example, at the grocery store, women spend an average of $44.43 per trip while men spend $34.81. And despite dominating the dollar and warehouse club channels, women spend just over $3 and $5 more respectively per trip than men.


Regardless of gender, Sunday is the most important shopping day of the week, although at warehouse club stores, Saturday is almost as important. Younger women shop mostly on the weekends, while women aged 55 and over spread their trips out more evenly over the course of a week (a pattern we also see for men).

Screen Wars

It’s a long-held fact that older people watch more TV than others, and this shows no sign of changing anytime soon. This can be largely attributed to the fact that many aged 65 and over are retired and have more time at home to watch TV. By gender, women watch more live TV than men at every age over 18, as well as more time-shifted programming recorded on a DVR. While DVD viewing is more popular among younger women, after age 45, men are slightly heavier  DVD users. And males of all ages dominate video gaming, especially in the younger years where playtime reaches over four hours a day for those aged 18 to 24.

Text or Talk – Women Do More of Both

Texting doesn’t have the same appeal for consumers over age 55 as it does for everyone else. In fact, all consumers under age 55 use their devices far more for text messages than for phone calls, with woman texting 30 percent more overall than men. Meanwhile, men lead high-end monthly data activity on their devices with activities such as surfing the Internet (31% for men vs. 29% for women), reading and sending e-mail (33% vs. 30%) and downloading apps (24% vs. 21%).


Online Shopping is for Everyone

Online shopping is popular among both sexes, with almost three-fourths of women (72%) and more than two-thirds of men (68%) having shopped online in the past 30 days. Consumers of both sexes age 35 to 54 had the highest levels of online shopping activity (74%). Women led most online purchase categories except music, auctions and computer hardware.


Innovation is the Fuel for Growth

While the old stereotypes still hold true: women shop the most, senior citizens watch the most TV, men play video games and women and the young like to text, in many cases, the picture is not as black-and-white as in the past. Baby Boomers, who are comfortable with technology, will increase online and mobile activity for seniors as they age. And as new technology further changes, younger consumers will stay on the cutting edge. It’s not likely that suddenly one day men will be the predominant shopper at the grocery store, but they are shopping more. Now more than ever is there a need for marketers to determine the appropriate method to connect with target shoppers.

These levels of connectivity also beg the question of when retailers will flip the switch on traditional feature ads in newspapers to digital versions. Differences in basket composition, planned versus impulse shopping and response to promotions are valuable tools toward designing the right level of shopper engagement. A number of retailers have already used their web sites to target senior citizens with special online promotions, clubs that offer discounts and other features. And one major consumer-packaged-goods manufacturer has even developed a site targeted toward male homemakers – a nod to the fact that more men are engaged in managing more of the day-to-day household chores than ever before. By using innovative approaches to target consumers, the results are not only more accurate, but they can be more effective too.