Lost in the Supermarket: Men Without Lists

Men are shopping more, but women still make the grocery decisions

By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

What's the worst thing a woman can tell a man?

If it's a healthy, economical meal she wants, "Get something for dinner on the way home" can be a recipe for disaster.

Why? In most families -- even those in which men buy the groceries -- women still make the shopping decisions. Without a list, men get lost in today's fast-paced supermarkets, says David W. Stewart, the Robert E. Brooker Professor of Marketing the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

"More and more men are picking up items at the grocery store," Stewart tells WebMD. "But they are frequently following the instructions of the female in the household. Traditionally, the woman was the decision maker and shopper. Now the female is still the primary decision maker, but the shopping is more often shared by two individuals."

Men and Women in the Grocery Aisles

More and more men have been doing more and more grocery shopping. It's not a new trend, says David Mick, PhD, professor of marketing at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce and president-elect of the Association for Consumer Research.

"There is no doubt that men's and women's shopping roles have changed," Mick tells WebMD. "Men are more often going into grocery stores and buying categories of things they would not have bought a generation ago. It has been going on for the last 20 years, and has been steadily rising."