It’s a man thing…

Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, a lack of one. Although healthy snacking among women has risen in the past year, men between the ages of 18-34 persist in unhealthy snacking. Why? According to Mintel, it is because healthy snacks are just not “manly enough”, which is why men in that age group have been given the distinction of being “the greatest opportunity for industry players” by Mintel.

In Mintel’s 2011 Healthy Snacking Consumer study, men aged 18-34 were found to be eating more snacks than they did the previous year, and yet were less likely to make an effort to snack on foods that were healthy. Health benefits alone don’t seem to do it for men. According to Mintel, “a snack’s health position needs to be of less consequence than taste, image and trendiness in order for it to have a more masculine slant”. For men more so then women, taste really does matter when it comes to creating a successful snack.

The most successful snacks to date come from creating a lower-calorie version of an original snack or using ingredients that men already identify as “tasty”.  Men don’t want to sacrifice taste, but offer a healthier alternative that still tastes great and men (or anyone for that matter) will go for it. This trend can be seen predominantly in Men Health’s Magazine features on “Eat This, Not That”.  In cases such as these, men will take the healthier route but only because they know they will not have to sacrifice their taste buds. One current example is Dr. Pepper Ten, a 10-calorie soft drink that not only promises not to sacrifice taste, but also has the distinction of being one of the few products that is marketed to men exclusively through their “It’s Not for Women” campaign.

Another way to appeal to men is to use healthy ingredients that many already enjoy. Peanuts are a great example, I mean who doesn’t love snacking on peanuts while enjoying an ice-cold beer? Plus, peanuts are an excellent source of protein. One of my favorite examples is Nature Valley’s new peanut, almond and dark chocolate protein bars.  Peanuts and chocolate is a tried and true combination, and protein has the functional benefit of keeping you fuller longer.

However, taste was found to be almost equally as important as a trendy image. One way to achieve this is through athlete endorsement, which has been successfully used by Gatorade for years. Mintel also suggests positioning the brand or product as an “extreme” that focuses on men’s “masculinity and ego”. This has been done successfully across a number of products and brands, including the pre mentioned Dr. Pepper Ten and Old Spice Body Wash. Humor, especially violent humor, is also a great way to appeal to men. The Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign is a great example for snacks packed with protein. By focusing on the humorous but debilitating effect of hunger, protein snacks can position themselves as a great tasting “fix” while their health benefits remain subconsciously in the background.

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