Over the last couple of years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that one common phrase deserving to be retired is, “The power of the purse.” Is it because women no longer wield buying power in their households? Absolutely not, of course they do; but the reason is not because the purse isn’t powerful, it’s because the wallet is now carrying equal weight in married households. The power of the purse connotes that men don’t have a say or, more importantly, don’t care about the brands they and members of their households bring into the home. It turns out they do, and there’s research proving it.
Our company has made significant investment in exploring the new era of men and masculinity. Our first annual Acumen Report found income in married households was split down the middle, and married men were more actively involved in child rearing and other household activities. We had the opportunity to share our findings with dozens of brands that target men across a variety of categories. While many agreed and nodded their heads regarding this new breed of guys, many others said when it came to brand decision making, men weren’t calling the shots – suggesting “the purse” held all the power. Some suggested that even if men were actually doing the buying, no doubt that “honey-do lists” were driving the actual brand decisions.
With that as background, we asked ourselves — as men take on these new roles — why would men revert to Kramer’s Mr. Moviefone voice and say, “Why don’t you just tell me the items you want to buy?” It just didn’t match what men were telling us. This year’s Acumen Report surveyed 2,000 men with an additional 75+ hours of qualitative interviews across the country that definitively indicated that men did care about their brands. And, not just the brands in traditionally male-focused categories like electronics, but also across food, beverage, CPG, and grooming. It turns out that more than 50% of married men ages 18-49 said their spouses do not tell them what brands to buy when shopping for groceries and household goods — discounting that assumed “honey-do” theory. And let’s not forget that according to the U.S. Census, 57% of men ages 18-49 are not living with a spouse or domestic partner. So, who do we think is making the brand decisions for these increasingly independent men?
We’re seeing a new, more balanced household — where decision-making no longer swings entirely to one gender versus the other. So the next time you’re in a shopping state of mind, take a good look around. The proof is in the aisle, and you might want to ask that modern man next to you which laundry detergent he recommends.