Man and His Mobile: New Consumer Segments of Today's Male Shopper
No one could have predicted the popularity of mobile devices and just how much they influence the daily lives of consumers. Many view them as an essential tool in purchase decision-making, perhaps in part due to the ability to read reviews and compare prices prior to purchase—and even in some cases during a purchase.
A recent study by Toluna aimed to gain insight into the purchasing behaviors of the modern man by utilizing the very same mobile devices that consumers are using to review and make purchases. By segmenting males into categories, brands can better understand consumer types and predict spend, so Toluna explored a popular male segmentation last used and popularized in Leo Burnett's 2005 'Man' study. The research revealed that, despite having an overall buying power of $170 billion, 74% of male mobile device users born between 1985 and 2004 believe that images of modern men in advertising are unrealistic.
The study, which concentrated on 21-28 year old male shoppers who purchased toothpaste and tooth whitening products, used three different mobile research techniques to delve deeper into the so-called 'Millennial Man': in-store surveying, passive monitoring, and psychographic profiling. In contrast to Burnett's research, which found two distinct segments—"metrosexual" man and "retrosexual" man—the new results revealed a third group: "patriarchal" man. The results also showed a controversial contradiction within Burnett's two identified segments.
The metrosexual male is still seen as a modern man willing to adopt non-traditional roles. He is still more likely to be single, live in urban areas, enjoy work and video games, and have an interest in beauty products. But what the in-store mobile survey revealed is that, rather than being motivated by brand perception and product delivery, the metrosexual male is actually more likely to choose a product based on price. In reverse, the retrosexual man—who was considered to be motivated by price—is actually more likely to buy toothpaste based on brand perception.
While the demographic traits of metrosexual and retrosexual man have not changed, their consumer behavior has, and a combination of in-store real-time surveys and passive monitoring reveals discrepancies in these long-held stereotypes.
Having uncovered variants within the 'Millennial Male' segments, psychographic questions were used to investigate their purchasing behaviors. While the metrosexual man is still influenced by brand and product performance when buying luxury items, toothpaste is seen as a staple product and therefore something on which to economize. The retrosexual man—more likely to be married, believe in God and fret about bills—is likely to buy a familiar brand to avoid conflict with his spouse, regardless of any money worries. Such subtle nuances can dramatically alter buyer behavior.
The new third segment in the 'Millennial Man' study is the patriarch—or family man. Sitting between the metrosexual and retrosexual camps, the patriarch is commonly married with a single child. He is as happy at home as he is at a party, is likely to live in the suburbs and own a video game console, and is generally content with life.
When it comes to buying toothpaste, a patriarch's behavior has distinct differences to both the metrosexual and retrosexual man. Where possible, he relies heavily on other people to buy his toothpaste but—when left to make the purchase himself—will buy products that are discounted. For a patriarch, being clean is a major objective, so smelling good ranks highly and he believes white teeth equal cleanliness. As a result, brands that promote health and hygiene are favored.
Interestingly, all three segments in the study used mobiles whilst shopping (anywhere between one and three times during a trip)—although there were marked differences in the way each used their device. Metrosexual men were the heaviest users, interacting with financial, social media and holiday destination apps, while retrosexual men showed a preference for voice calls as they shopped. Patriarchs were light users, with apps tending to be based around lists, daily chores, expenses and travel. This is a strong indicator of the role in-store survey results could play in digital advertising planning, allowing brand messages and special offers to reach consumers—including the men with their mobiles—at crucial points during the consumer journey.
It is clear that, with the development of latest technologies comes the birth of new segments, and research strategists should constantly challenge the behavior on which we base stereotypes in order to reach more targeted audiences and adapt messaging accordingly.