Men Stepping Up for Thanksgiving and Other Holidays
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my thoughts are turning more frequently to cooking and meal preparation. In 2013, I had the pleasure of sharing consumer insights trends with the Butterball team, who had just welcomed the first men as official brand spokespersons.
The Butterball brand recognized that 1 in 4 callers to the Turkey Talk-Line are men, and men are becoming increasingly involved in cooking. Some studies report that men love to cook more than women and that their favorite cooking method is to use the grill (while women prefer the oven).
Men More Involved in Cooking and Food Shopping Year-Round
These Thanksgiving insights tie into a year-round trend of men’s increasing involvement in food shopping and meal preparation.
There are a number of data points that support men’s increased involvement in shopping and cooking. For example, one study found that Gen X men go grocery shopping more than once a week and cook eight meals per week, which is much more than their fathers did. The grocery store, Schnuck’s, found 6% more men as Primary Grocery Shopper (PGS) when compared to five years previously.
Cooking shows are very popular with both genders, with the Food Network estimating that men made up 42% of their viewing audience. Food ranks third behind sports and tech in terms of dad’s favorite information topic.
None of this is meant to infer that men are doing more of this than women, but the trend is increasing.
Cooking Among Retirees Is a Priority
Cooking in family households with kids at home is challenging, with time constraints, conflicting schedules (e.g., evening extracurriculars and sports for kids), and a number of mouths to feed (with competing food and taste preferences). However, in retiree households, once the time constraints are lifted a bit, Nielsen data shows that more time is spent preparing meals and that the social dimension of entertaining can come to the fore. Nielsen Senior Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Insights Todd Hale comments:
“When thinking about the shopping needs of an older demographic, we can forget that seniors live active social lives and enjoy entertaining with family and friends. A closer look at their shopping baskets reveals golden opportunities for marketers to better align products and services with not just their nutritional and medical needs, but their social desires too.”
Boomer Men Gear Up for Cooking Adventure
With Boomers increasingly moving into retirement (current ages are 50-69), many Boomer men are starting to take up cooking. Men’s approach is to spend a bit more time, with men more likely than women to spend “as long as it takes, 40 minutes or more” when preparing a meal. Men view preparing meals as an adventure, as described by Barry Calpino:
“Now they'll talk about cooking like guys would talk about a hobby 20 years ago. It's an adventure, it's an experience, it's fun, they talk about 'their signature.'"
And men also feel more relaxed about the outcome, according to Robin Ross, Associate Director or Culinary at Kraft:
“Men feel they have more latitude as cooks. Women want to please their families and for everyone to like what they make. Men have more of a free hand.”
Like any other activity where more time is spent, an increase in discretionary spending will follow suit. Beyond grills, men are finding use for such products as the ‘Rugged Man Apron’ and $275 knives, the ‘required tools’ to accomplish the task. Men like to ‘gear up’ for their interests, and there are plenty of brands taking advantage of this attitude.
From Millennial dads to Boomer retirees, men are showing an unprecedented interest in food preparation and cooking. This shift presents challenges and opportunities for brands that traditionally focused on female market segments.