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We had a story on Friday about a study suggesting that almost two-thirds of men do at least some grocery shopping, up from 41 percent just two years ago. Which means that it makes sense for more supermarkets to gear at least some of their marketing and merchandising efforts to men. Some of these men are single, some are one-half of two-career couples, and some are retired…but all of them are hungry and looking for food.

According to experts, these men don’t like long checkout lines and frequent shopper programs, and aren’t nuts about self-checkout. They also tend to be more impulse-driven with only about 25 percent of male shopper using a list. They want better and more available store directories. And more information about the products they’re buying and how to prepare them.

We also quoted our friend Phil Lempert, who said that cooking classes for men are an excellent idea…though we disagreed with his suggestion that these cooking classes for men ought to be taught by men rather than some “cute girl.”

MNB user Louise Olson responded:

Until I read this article I thought I lived with an unusual guy. In our household, he does the grocery shopping. He is not loyal to one major chain. Which one will give him the best deals during a given week is the one he goes to. Sometimes he goes to more than one on his shopping day. He even cuts out and uses those damn coupons. Seems to me that guys doing grocery shopping have some interest in cooking. At least in my house, he is the better cook. And about those cooking classes, he won't consider them. I'm the one that takes the cooking classes. Do you know of any that are taught by firemen?

MNB user Vonda Kuechler chimed in:

My husband is a "power shopper". He knows what he wants to purchase and wants to get in and out of the store quickly. Long check out lines caused by multiple lanes available with only a few in operation are the most frustrating and have caused him to not shop various retailers.

As for the self-checkout, give him a discount for doing the work of the paid employee and maybe he might consider using them but until then, if he has to pay the same price, the retailer should have to do the work.

It’s interesting…that’s the second time in a few weeks that the notion of discounting sales run through self-checkout systems has come up. Wonder if there might be a bit of a grass-roots movement starting here?

And MNB user Denise Remark wrote:

I agree with Phil that cooking classes for men should be taught by men.

However, not the glitzy, showy, chef-celebs that we see on TV, but by regular-guy type chefs. My brother is such a chef: three kids, wife can't really cook too well, he's always been a foodie but is also a regular family man. He does teach to both men & women and his students love him. I've talked with several who say that he's not arrogant or uppity about his knowledge, but is a nice, pleasant, easy-to-understand-doesn't-make-you-feel stupid-for-asking instructor. This is what guys need, someone with whom they can relate who doesn't make them feel inadequate.

We weren’t suggesting that only cute girls should teach such classes…just that we wouldn’t rule out a teacher for being a cute girl. Hey, we’re just trying to be open-minded here…we don’t want to be accused of the same stuff Wal-Mart is accused of!

And speaking of the accusations against Wal-Mart, one MNB user wrote:

I have some advice for all those women who claim not to be treated fairly at Wal-Mart. Try applying for a job at one of the more "women friendly" companies that are touted so highly in women's magazines. I have a feeling you would never ever be considered for a position at one of those companies.

It’s very easy to quote statistics on how in most other companies women dominate the management ranks. I'm sure those stats are true. However Wal-Mart tends to hire many job desperate and basically unemployable women (and men) who if not for the grace and kindness of Wal-Mart, they probably would have no prospects for employment. If any of these women suing Wal-Mart had any business skills whatsoever, they would be employed somewhere using them and not crying over spilled milk. Odd, I don't recall any high-ranking female execs at Wal-Mart suing. Only those at the very bottom.

No, this email was not sent anonymously by Lee Scott.

Another MNB user wrote:

Why does this come as a surprise? In a country where lawsuits for spilt coffee, burgers that make you fat and any other ridiculous perceived injustices have become commonplace, I’m surprised it took the lawyers this long to figure out that Wal-Mart has deeper pockets then most, “we should find a reason to sue.” The more employees a company has, the greater the likelihood that some one or several people will feel they have been wronged in some imagined way. In the past most people kept their months shut or found a new job. But with the advent of juries awarding millions of dollars for even the slightest imagined injustice what do you expect? My guess is as this continues businesses will be visited on a regular basis by lawyers looking to find a disgruntled employee to pursue a lawsuit with. Sure beats sitting around the law office with nothing to do. It’s like the old vulture joke ”Why we waiting for something to die? Let’s go kill it.”

In the end we will be our own worse enemy as business grinds to a halt and the costs get passed on to the consumer. People need to start figuring out that lawsuits may benefit a few with huge settlements but in the end they hurt all consumers. There needs to be a better way to resolve disagreements, correct injustices and create better work environments with out getting lawyers involved.

We saw a story over the weekend about the Berkeley law firm that is spearheading the suit against Wal-Mart, and it isn’t some group of rich lawyers looking to feather their nests. Rather, it is a firm that has its roots in the sixties counter-culture, that sees its mission as social justice, and that has offices that apparently make Wal-Mart’s own modest headquarters look opulent.

None of which may be good news for Wal-Mart.

We had a piece last Friday about a new study suggesting that Wal-Mart will command one-fifth of all grocery-store sales as the behemoth moves ahead with a scaled-down version of its supercenters called “Urban 99.” Many of the 850 supercenters expected to be built by Wal-Mart in the US between now and 2013 are expected to be this format – a 99,000 sq. ft. footprint that is suitable for urban locations as well as to get around local laws that prohibit big box stores of 100,000 sq. ft. or more.

We commented that while we respect Wal-Mart’s ability to adapt and come up with a format that skirts local regulations by coming in under the line, we suspect that there could be some backlash against this as well.

To which one MNB user responded:

Any company building retail at 99,000 sq ft is okay if the regulation is not more than 100,000 sq ft. The words you used - "skirt laws and regulations" are a bit harsh. What is open to all, especially since they would be within the rules and regulations, is to build at 99,000 sq ft.

And another MNB user wrote:

Your characterization of the Urban 99 format as skirting the law seems to be very unfair. If you drive 55 MPH in a 70 MPH zone, are you skirting the law?

You could also say that they are trying to accommodate local community wishes by creating such a format. How can a company do anything right under this type of scrutiny?


Our point is a simple one. A 99,000 sq. ft. big box store puts the same stress on a community’s infrastructure as a 101,000 sq. ft. store. If communities perceive companies as trying to get in under the wire, they may put new spins on restrictive legislation.

Maybe “skirt the law” was the wrong way to characterize it. But that’s the way it may appear.

We had a piece last week about a new study by ACNielsen saying that an increased interest by men in their appearance, hygiene and grooming has contributed to the growth in Personal Care categories around the world.

The study — “What's Hot Around the Globe: Insights on Growth in Personal Care” — analyzed retail purchases in 56 countries across nearly 60 categories. For instance, the sales value of shower gels, one of the fastest growing personal care categories worldwide, grew by seven percent in 2003, primarily on the strength of sales in male-oriented products. Two other categories — deodorants and razors & blades — are also benefiting from men’s newfound attention to appearance.

Sales of male-oriented products grew twice as fast as those of female-oriented products, according to the study.

To which one MNB user responded:

Now maybe you guys will be able to figure out what we women have been having to deal with for the last gazillion years! If it isn't tight, flat, blonde (or whatever hair color), perky, unlined, and super model perfect, then we MUST need to use the face cream, hair dye, uplifting bra, etc., etc., etc. to get it there. No wonder every new 'wonderful, youth restoring' cosmetic and other GM/HBC products sell so well to women. Now we will have to complete for the eye cream at home each night!!!

And another MNB user sent us the following email:

As you know from my comments and sometimes rants-- I've been a subscriber for a couple of years now. I'm also in the home stretch to finish my MBA in December.

I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for being such a fantastic resource -- I've used quotes and references from MNB several times in papers and presentations, always to an astounded, "Where did you find that?"

Right now I'm in what is referred to as the cornerstone class -- the last class that draws all of your MBA experience together in a cohesive mass. Here at University of Tampa, they do this by assigning you to a real live company as a consulting team of 4-5 MBA students. Our "client" is a manufacturer of hair care products -- yesterday I knocked his socks off by handing him the A.C. Nielsen report on personal care around the world -- dated the previous day.

You're a hero, and you make me look good -- even better!

Our pleasure…your comments are music to our ears.

And on the subject of music, read on…
KC's View: