A Japanese Mayor stating his opinion on maintaining social distancing in supermarkets got trolled for saying women take longer grocery shopping… but was there any truth to his claim?
Recently, Mayor Ichiro Matsui of Osaka, Japan was widely slammed on social media for a comment that was taken as highly inappropriate and discriminatory. Trolled Japanese Mayor Matsui said that women take longer than men when shopping for groceries.
In his exact man-to-man conversation with a male reporter, the Mayor’s exact words were “When a woman goes… it will take time”. The topic was trying to reduce the number of shoppers to ensure social distancing in supermarkets.
World over, supermarkets aisles are becoming hotspots for spread of the virus.
When Matsui tried to advocate that men should go shopping to save time, his remarks stirred a controversy as users on Twitter called him sexist. However, with gender behavior the subject in question and the need to ensure the activity of shopping is streamlined and adhered to social distancing norms, let us ponder on some researches in the domain.
What studies into gender shopping behavior say?
Most gender shopping behavior studies note that “sex-specific characteristics fall along a broad continuum containing substantial overlap between sexes”. That means it is impossible to accurately map stereotypes in most cases. Men and women – each individual can similar or dissimilar, due to our unique characteristics.
However, retailers find it useful to analyze the gender behavior at large to help them market the product to the exact target audience. Furthermore, there’s a difference between how male and female brains solve tasks. Women rely on the larger and more organized cerebral cortex to perform tasks. Men instead use the larger proportion of the gray matter in the left hemisphere.
Studies say women identify and control their emotions better than men in general. Men, on the other hand, are more focused on completing tasks, described by a study as “pragmatic shoppers.” A Wharton research says “women are happy to meander through sprawling clothing and accessory collections or detour through the shoe department. For men, shopping is a mission. They are out to buy a targeted item and flee the store as quickly as possible.”
Wharton Study says while women are happy to meander, men take shopping as a mission.
That means studies do suggest that men like to shop and get out of the supermarket faster than women. However, here’s a catch.
Short-term vs long-term shopping
Some of these studies also note that men being faster also stems from them men shopping for a few items in mind rather than long grocery lists. Moreover, some studies also note that for men doing grocery shopping, the list of items is made by the female partner or spouse more often than not. As one study notes, “Women tend to go grocery shopping less, but they buy more when they do. Men frequent the grocery store more often, buying more short-term groceries and leaving pretty quickly.”
With all that information at hand, there’s no denying that the comment that women take longer shopping from the trolled Japanese Mayor was irresponsible. Osaka mayor Matsui has also remarked that there should be limits to how often people should be allowed to go to supermarkets. He has suggested an odd-even scheme for people to shop as per the month in which they are born. Matsui has also said that couples shouldn’t go out shopping together. His Osaka city and the nearby prefecture second hardest-hit area in Japan after Tokyo with almost 1,500 coronavirus cases.