Men vs. Women – who wins in healthier habits?

Are men or women healthier?

Here’s a question for you.

Who do you think is more likely to crave fast food – men or women? Before you answer, I want you to think about the last fast meal you ate. Great, now that you’ve got a picture in your head, tell me your thoughts. 

If you said, women…

Men are more likely to chow down at these fast food places.
Figure 1: Men are more likely to chow down at these fast food places.

You were wrong.

The men win this round. Now, let’s take a look at why with survey data. To answer that question, think about what you ate for lunch today. If you’re a male, you’re 9% more likely to have hit up McDonald’s.1 That’s because men tend to view fast food as just that – food. While women see fast food as a snack.1 

So, while women may crave fast food, they don’t buy enough of it to top the charts as men do.

So then what are women eating?

Female foot traffic focuses on ‘healthier’ fare.
Figure 2: Female foot traffic focuses on ‘healthier’ fare.

Okay, ‘healthy’ is a relative term.

You can’t call Starbucks – this drink in particular – a healthy choice. But, the food they offer is possibly a bit better than french fries drenched in salt.

The point is, women have a different view than men do when it comes to eating out. When they’re ready for more than a snack, they look for restaurants with a bit more substance to spend their calories on. Choosing Olive Garden, Chick-fil-A, and Arby’s over Panda Express.

Who cares?

You do.

See, if you work for a quick-service restaurant (QSR), I bet you do a great job reaching men 18-34. But, you may be missing that elusive female audience. Wouldn’t it be neat to steal market share using from your competitors by offering brand research into what they want?

Yes, I’m talking about more than adding a salad to the menu.

Grow your reach. 

Ask a first-party panel of women what they want … what they really, really want. Then, take that first-party data and craft a product line for your female consumers. That’s how you can get ahead of what everyone else is doing and hit a massive new market in the meantime.

Speaking of…

Women are also more likely than men to be cooking at home. So, what if you went out on a limb and asked about what kind of meal kits, or pre-prepared ingredients you could sell in-store – you might also help convince females to make your restaurant-quality meals at home.

Now, that’s a great idea. 

Here’s why.

Home cooks hit up big-box food stores – a lot – I mean, they’ve got to buy food after all. So, it makes sense that Walmart has a 6% higher reach, frequency, and duration, than people who eat at restaurants more often. Take a look.

Home cooks hit up big-box food stores more frequently.
Figure 3: Home cooks hit up big-box food stores more frequently.

Which means one thing …

You have a captive female audience right now going to the grocery store. If you can figure out how to best position your fresh, restaurant-ready ingredients right there, you can massively increase your demographic reach.

Take a look.

Women are more likely to visit the grocery store.
Figure 4: Women are more likely to visit the grocery store.

That’s right.

From these two charts, we can clearly see that females who prefer to cook at home are more likely to visit food stores than men. So again, if you’re looking to grow your female audience, target them with what they’re looking for … healthier food … then, meet them where they are.

Starbucks is already on it. After raking in more than $213 million in sales, its pre-made products make the coffee chain America’s number one ready-to-drink producer.2 When it comes to reaching women, they’re also ahead of the pack. Nearly 2x as many women go to Starbucks when compared to men.

Now what?

Take your time.
Brand adjustments aren’t easy. So, before making any big changes, consult the MFour Studio market research platform first. Let a first-party panel of females tell you exactly what they want. It’s here, and it’s free for 7 days.



By Theresa Bui

Reviewed by Cathy Karcher

Posted on February 24th, 2023

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