The Acumen Report examines how men create relationships with brands, research products and make purchasing decisions.
During research for our 2013 report “The State of Men,” which examines shifts in male roles, behavior, attitudes and mindsets, we interviewed Andy Tu, SVP of marketing at Break Media. Last week, we caught up again with Tu, now EVP of marketing for Defy Media (a merger between Break Media and Alloy Digital), to discuss the company’s Acumen Report: Brand New Man. The second annual study from the company, the Acumen Report examines how men create relationships with brands, research products and make purchasing decisions.
Many of Defy Media’s brand partners felt that men, while changing, were largely still operating off a “honey-do” list—but Tu says the latest research shows this is frequently not the case: “The more we dug, the more we found out that men really did care and want to find out more about products across the board, everything from face wash to hair products to skin care.” Of the married men surveyed, a majority (54 percent) say they shop for groceries more often than their spouse, while 53 percent say their spouse doesn’t specify which brands to buy. In fact, around two-thirds say they actually enjoy shopping for the household, and 63 percent are open to choosing new brands. More than 65 percent are primarily responsible for shopping for several household product categories.
The study—which included an online survey of 2,000 American men aged 18-49, an online discussion board with three dozen men and teens, and interviews with 22 men and teens across three cities—also found that men aren’t necessarily looking for “the latest and greatest.” Rather, says Tu, “Guys are looking for products that are right just for them.” To find those products, men are going online to research reviews, blogs, articles and videos, using both PCs and mobile. Men under 35 are most apt to do so: 41 percent use online reviews to research a new brand, for instance, compared with 21 percent of men age 35-49.
“You have this vibe that the younger guys, especially, didn’t feel like there was this rulebook or playbook that they had to participate in and know,” says Tu. “They were like, ‘I don’t know what product I want to use, and somebody else could probably tell me.’”
The study also found that in line with current trends, men are drawn to brands that are storied, local or healthy. Forty-nine percent had bought a product because he liked the brand’s story or history, while 60 percent bought a product because it was made locally. Some 58 percent said they look for foods that are natural, low-fat, have less sugar and/or are organic, and 70 percent say they are buying more healthful foods for themselves than in the past. “There’s a myth that men don’t participate in broader cultural trends,” says Tu. “The majority of men actually said they were looking for products that were better for them, that had fewer ingredients in them, that they knew all the things that went into that product.”
Men are nuanced, thoughtful, often exacting consumers, with an increasingly authoritative voice when it comes to household purchasing. Marketers will need to drop the doofus dad and mindless meathead, and update their image of the everyman. “I’m glad that guys are getting more cred from brands and from the media that we’re more balanced beings,” says Tu. “It’s like, ‘I’m not this mindless robot when it comes to crossing the threshold of my supermarket or during the buying process. I care, and I want the credit for caring.’ We’re more conscious consumers.”