Why women shop differently today

Articles
June 01, 2009

Why women shop differently today

This blistering recession is likely throwing a lot of men out of the office and into the willing role of Mr. Mom—especially if the real mom is employed. By sharing hats and keeping one income stream intact, American households are trying to buy time for the economy to right so they can resume their more familiar places as dual breadwinners within the family structure. It will take time for Federal government figures to reflect these shifts. But findings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey (conducted annually so far between 2003 and 2007) provide a close-up view of who takes the greatest responsibility for child-raising, household chores and other unpaid activities that keep the home and social fabric together. By comparing findings of these recent studies with the most prominent statistic from the country’s initial National Survey of Families and Households, 1987-1988—that wives estimated they spent 37.2 hours per week on average engaged in housework tasks—the ratcheting up of pressures on mom is evident. It is therefore easy to understand why her shopping routines and behaviors are so different today—and why retailers and CPG need to mind her multitasking.. The NSFH survey was a collaborative effort between the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University, and the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. It was funded by the Center for Population Research of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

This blistering recession is likely throwing a lot of men out of the office and into the willing role of Mr. Mom—especially if the real mom is employed. By sharing hats and keeping one income stream intact, American households are trying to buy time for the economy to right so they can resume their more familiar places as dual breadwinners within the family structure.

It will take time for Federal government figures to reflect these shifts. But findings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey (conducted annually so far between 2003 and 2007) provide a close-up view of who takes the greatest responsibility for child-raising, household chores and other unpaid activities that keep the home and social fabric together.

By comparing findings of these recent studies with the most prominent statistic from the country’s initial National Survey of Families and Households, 1987-1988—that wives estimated they spent 37.2 hours per week on average engaged in housework tasks—the ratcheting up of pressures on mom is evident. It is therefore easy to understand why her shopping routines and behaviors are so different today—and why retailers and CPG need to mind her multitasking..

The NSFH survey was a collaborative effort between the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University, and the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. It was funded by the Center for Population Research of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The nine housework tasks cited were: preparing meals; washing dishes and cleaning up after meals; housecleaning; shopping for groceries and other household goods; washing, ironing and mending; outdoor and other household maintenance tasks; auto maintenance and repair; paying bills and keeping other financial records; and driving other household members to work, school or other activities.

Household structures and living arrangements were becoming more diverse then—while the primary challenges today are economic.

In 2007, before Wall Street crumbled and took with it the financial soundness of American households, 83% of women and 66% of men spent some part of every day (women 2.7 hours, men 2.2 hours) on household activities.  Marketers, note that TV watching accounted for about half of leisure and sports time (2.6 hours out of 5.1 hours total per day) for both men and women. On an average day, 52% of women and 20% of men did housework (such as cleaning or laundry), and 64% of women and 37% of men did food preparation or cleanup.

Adults living in households with children under 6 spent a average of 2.0 hours per day providing primary childcare; if children were ages 6 to 17, the time spent was 46 minutes per day, according to the 2007 survey, the latest available.

More insights: men and women averaged 8.6 hours of sleep per day, and spent an hour-and-a-quarter eating and drinking, three-quarters of an hour socializing, and three-quarters of an hour purchasing goods and services on average.