The Oft-Forgotten Segment: What Food and Beverage Brands Need to Know About Male Consumers
Historically, if you were to turn to a stranger and ask, “Who does more shopping? Men or women?” the answer would seem fairly obvious. Conventional wisdom says that women are the bargain hunters, the retail therapy-obsessed, and ultimately the with an almost out-of-control thirst for spending. But this narrative has been slowly shifting, with concrete evidence that not only contradicts what most of us think we know but also tells a story of “gender-blurring” in regards to purchasing power.
Marketing to your consumer by gender is a complex task, and the fact that men are outpacing women in several behavioral categories has huge implications for the face of marketing. Men now hold more purchasing power and that means businesses can no longer target women because they aren’t the only ones making the spending decisions. It’s also important to note that men and women have very different outlooks on how best to shop. Men like shopping to be an adventure, they use lists but aren’t bound to them and are willing to ask for help (especially with apparel). According to a 2015 Blackhawk Research Study, 71 percent of women surveyed said they used their mobile device to drive their shopping behavior, while 97 percent of those surveyed reported having the same or greater price sensitivity than the year before. Despite the shrinking income gap, women are moving away from the “stay at home” archetype. As the gender gap closes, the daily tasks that were once considered “women’s work” are being shared in tandem. As a result, men are spending more time taking on the role of purchaser when the woman of the household cannot.
How this concept works in the food and beverage industry
When looking at food and beverage specifically, things get even more complex. There is a paradigm shift in purchasing power dynamics, but how does this affect your food and beverage company? In a nutshell, you can’t focus on gender marketing anymore. The Hartman Group released a report in 2014 showing that men made up about 43 percent of primary shoppers for their households, and men made the same amount of monthly store visits as women. This alone is proof positive that you need to take into account “gender blur.” A few smart ways to use this to your benefit is to focus on the items that appeal to both men and women. To-go snacks are very important to on-the-go customers because of increasingly hectic lifestyles. Healthy, green items are a huge draw because consumers of both genders share similar concerns about green foods, mainly whether a product is all natural, has limited sugar or no added sugar, or has limited or no artificial ingredients. Lastly, targeting male and female consumers with nostalgia-based product campaigns that focus on a time before over-connectivity can pay dividends. Coca Cola is the most obvious example of a brand taking this approach as more people shift away from pop to healthier drinks.
The fact that the gender roles when it comes to household purchasing power are in a constant state of flux in today’s modern world is a huge opportunity for you and your business. Instead of targeting men and women separately you now have the capability to focus your marketing efforts on other target demographic. As purchasing power continues to bounce back and forth between whoever has the time to do the shopping, remember that the consumer pool is bigger now, and that is never a bad thing.
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