Industry News | February 9, 2010

Feeding the Family Man

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Married men have healthier habits and make more of an investment in their health than their single comrades, according to a study recently released by Mintel. The research found that 55 percent of married men had a physical within the last year and 88 percent have health insurance, compared to 35 percent and 69 percent, respectively, for single men.

For the quick-service restaurant sector, the study suggests an underlying marketing and product opportunity that does not have to be just a push for salads and juices over burgers and milkshakes.

Mintel surveyed 2,000 adults, including 980 men, in April of 2009. The online survey was intended to shed light on the status of consumer health.

“We asked them some general health questions and then some specific questions about their health concerns,” says Molly Heyl-Rushmer, the senior analyst at Mintel who handled the survey. “It confirmed a lot of what we already know. Women’s diets tend to be healthier than men’s, and women are more concerned with calories and watching what they are eating.”

According to Heyl-Rushmer, the quick-service industry is bailing on attempts to appeal to the healthy man, marketing instead to men’s big appetites.

“It’s a definite shift toward encouraging men to fill themselves, which is really threatening to men’s health, especially considering more men than women are overweight,” Heyl-Rushmer says. “This is a great opportunity for quick serves to reach out to these men and men in general.”

“The main thing the foodservice industry can do is reduce serving sizes,” says John Stanton, Department of Food Marketing chair at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “They can go after men by just subtly reducing the serving sizes.”

Heyl-Rushmer suggests quick serves focus on fresher food choices and an overall better relationship with food, rather than overtly pushing healthier alternatives.

Targeting the entire family rather than just the married man, according to Stanton, may be where restaurants can take advantage of the survey’s findings.

“The family offering [at restaurants] is not really for married men, but it has this whole offering of kids’ menus and fun things to eat and a friendly environment,” he says. “When I go out with the family, I may be a little more cautious about my food choices, but when I’m by myself ... I’m going whole-hog. If you want married men, advertise to families."

By Brendan O'Brien

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