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Supermarkets Deploy Sausage Stations, Dad Jokes to Lure Male Shoppers

Grocery stores are discovering what women have known for years: Men shop…different. “Sometimes he’ll buy things and I’ll say, ‘Take it to the office because I don’t want it in the house,’ ” says Leandra Hutchinson, a 36-year-old health-care operations consultant in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, who follows a low-carb diet. She appreciates that her husband, Matt, 40, buys half the groceries since the birth of their second child, Lilly, three years ago. But the fridge can become a sticking point. “I might pick up a loaf of French bread or angel food cake or doughnuts for the kids,” says Matt Hutchinson, a lawyer. “My wife would never buy that.”

As more men do the grocery shopping, supermarkets are taking note. Lowes Foods, a chain in North and South Carolina, introduced gourmet sausage stations and “beer dens,” where customers can drink while they shop or get a half-gallon jug filled with a craft beer, in 14 locations four years ago. After they were launched, “there was an immediate, noticeable increase in the number of men shopping in our stores,” says Heather George, senior vice president of brand strategy. The male-focused amenities are now featured in 61 stores. 

Fifty-eight percent of men who do grocery shopping said they believe they are doing the vast majority of it for their households, according to a 2017 study by Hartman Group Inc., a Bellevue, Wash., food consultancy. “Men are making more decisions and feeling more empowered of the shopping that they are doing,” says Laurie Demeritt, the firm’s chief executive.

Men are less price-sensitive and less health-conscious while shopping than women, the Hartman study found. They often conduct “search-and-retrieve missions,” getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible. They tend to load up on treats the household’s main shopper avoids and often buy too much or too little, or forget items.

15 Powerful Women Shaping How We Eat in America Today

The Woman Predicting What You'll Eat Next
Who: Laurie Demeritt
Power Role: CEO at The Hartman Group

There's a good chance that Laurie Demeritt knows what you're going to eat before you eat it. Demeritt has worked at The Hartman Group — a consumer insights and market research firm — for over 20 years. She works with some of the largest food and beverage brands in America.

According to Hartman, the "dynamics of shopping and consuming have undergone more change than at any other time since the Industrial Revolution," and that many people, despite being busier, are shopping even more to get exactly what they want.

Demeritt says that because of the consumer research that Hartman conducts, the consumer holds more power than ever: "We see products today that better reflect consumer needs regarding more healthful, higher-quality products as well as their desires for more transparency around how products are grown, produced, and brought to market."


Family Meal Traditions

How often do families eat together? According to David Emerson Feit, vice president of The Hartman Group, a research firm that conducts both survey research and in-depth interviews to understand family meals, statistics vary depending on the definition of a family meal. Considering a family meal is one that's eaten at home with food prepared at home and with other family members, about 50% of dinners in households with children are family dinners. Roughly one-third of breakfasts and onequarter of lunches meet these criteria.

Parents prefer to eat home-prepared meals with their children. "More than two-thirds of parents say they want to eat with their kids every night if they could," Feit says. Parents say that eating together is more enjoyable and satisfying, a better value than eating alone, and an important opportunity to strengthen family bonds and social development. In addition, nearly 88% of adults say that homeprepped meals are more healthful than meals eaten outside the home, Feit adds.

In general, parents have several goals when they eat shared meals. One goal is for the food to be healthful. "Parents feel especially good about meeting that goal because it's part of taking care of people. Meeting everyone's individual tastes or needs is another level of success," Feit says. Social connection and quality time also are important goals of family meals. Parents struggle to meet all of these goals, so they often compromise on the foods' healthfulness. "Sometimes it's easier without healthful food," he explains.



The A.C.T. Experience

Click on this link to go to the event page: A.C.T. SEATTLE

Finding inspiration for “what to make to eat?” can be a real challenge for many of America’s households

Cooking today for a family must accommodate everyone’s schedule and food preferences ranging from avoidances to culinary variety and healthfulness.


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