Men, Why even they shop till they drop!


March 11, 2012

Malini Goyal, The Economic Times

New Delhi, March 11, 2012

Satish Kumar used to hate shopping. The 43-year-old techie from Delhi found the crowds intimidating and the haggling tiresome. The fickleness of his mother and wife jangled his nerves. Kumar would come back from shopping in a foul mood.

To keep things simpler, the Kumar household divided its shopping chores a few years ago. His wife took care of shopping for veggies, clothing and household items. Kumar had the job of lugging the groceries from the kirana shop, even though Mrs Kumar prepared the monthly list of items to buy. And finally, Kumar called the shots on big ticket purchases like a TV or a fridge.

Of late though, things have changed. In January, Kumar stepped out with his family on an impromptu shopping spree in which he ended up splurging Rs. 50,000 at the Great India Place, one of the largest malls in the country. The shopping list: shoes, a warm jacket for the next winter and three formal shirts that he didn’t need but liked. While at it, the Kumar’s also bought new curtains and changed their mixer-grinder.

"Modern retail format is changing the way men shop," says Adrian Terron, VP, Nielsen India. "Traditionally, they do not succumb to sales, stick to their favourite brands and do not indulge in impulse buys. No longer so in India," he adds. Retail watchers contend that a combination of factors – better shopping environment, a wide variety of products and brands, nuclear households, better disposable incomes and a growing breed of metrosexual men – is making middle class Indian men shop like never before.

From apparels to accessories, gadgets to grooming products, their shopping list is expanding.

Why Do They Shop?

Damodar Mall, president, Food Bazaar, sees more and more men shopping. At least 40% of the shopping carts that are wheeled into the billing counter of Future’s high-end food retail chain, Foodhall, have a man paying the bill. With multiple shoppers from a family, bill sizes are typically 25% higher than a single shopper. "Self service modern store with comfortable environment is luring more men into the stores," says Mall.

The rising footfalls of male shoppers can be gauged by looking at the ever increasing display space for male grooming products at shopping malls. Companies like Garnier and Emami are tapping the fast growing market. In 2009, Garnier entered the male grooming segment with Garnier Men. Within three months, it became the second largest player in the men’s skin care market.

FMCG company Marico recently paid $100 million to acquire the male grooming products of Paras Brands from Reckitt Benckiser. Emami’s Fair & Handsome, targeted at men, is growing at 23% and Emami’s revenues from the product were Rs. 162 crore in 2011.

Bling Bling

Jewellry is another area that is doing brisk business. In an interview with ET last year, R Radhakrishnan, MD of GRT Jewellers said male jewellery accounted for 20-25% of total sales. Kolkata-based Shree Ganesh Jewellery has launched a men’s jewellery range under the brand, Gaja.

Not surprisingly, a Euromonitor 2011 study reports that India has overtaken the US to become the third largest men’s luxury jewellery market.

So, what has made the Indian man fall out of love with the couch and take to the shopping cart? The biggest reason: modern retail.

Malls today have everything under one roof. "It is no longer so physically exhausting. It has become lot more fun," says Kumar. With a range of stores and activities – from gadgets to furnishings to clothes, accessories, food and game zones – all available under one roof, solo shopping trips are fewer. "Earlier a man had to tag along and bear the drudgery if the store was not relevant to them. Today in a mall, there are options all under one roof which is making the difference," says Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak Advisors.

What Men Want

Remember the old Surf detergent campaign and the almost shrewish Lalitaji? Well, before modern retail started off in India, women shoppers ruled the shopping space, thanks to their better bargaining skills which mattered so much while dealing with mom and pop stores.

Today, "discounting is a lot more formalised," says Terron. From the end of season sale to 26th January bonanza, bargaining is no longer ad hoc and random. It is lot more structured, transparent, more pervasive and hence more acceptable for men today. Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, says because the buying process is becoming complex and information led, deals and bargains are becoming a lot more mainstream.

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