According to a recent article published by QSR magazine, females typically make the majority of purchasing decisions in their households when it comes to food-related purchases. Not only are women going out into the marketplace to buy food for themselves, but more often than not they are also purchasing on behalf of their spouses and children. According to several economic sources, women make up 51 percent of the US population, account for 85 percent of consumer spending and have $7 trillion in purchasing power. What does this mean for your restaurant, you ask? You need to make sure you are listening to what women want.Healthy Choices:
Many women assume the role of primary caregiver for their families, thus making them more focused on the health and wellness of their family members. Women want healthy foods for their children and families, which has a direct impact on the restaurant and foodservice industries. The restaurant industry has seen an increase in healthy eating trends. The rise in popularity of healthy menu items that feature fresh, quality ingredients certainly reflects the typical values of the female consumer.
According to a market research firm, The NPD Group, women are more likely to frequent bakery sandwich restaurants, coffee and tea establishments, and frozen treat shops. Research also suggests that women are more likely to patronize restaurants that offer soups and salads and tend to order menu items such as a turkey sandwich or turkey club; salads and side salads; as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Product customization is another menu trend that attracts a lot of female customers. Whether it is giving consumers a choice of sandwich bread or flatbread; chips or an apple; or a regular-size or half-size portion; customers continue to respond well to variety. Restaurants that offer an “assembly-line” operation often appeal to the female consumer. Women seem to take pleasure in having the opportunity to control the types of food and ingredients they are ordering and consuming.
When it comes to healthy eating, the salad segment seems to be a no-brainer. It is probably no surprise that the operations within this industry that have seen the most success also offer customizable menu options. A consumer survey on salad bars concluded that females especially responded well to variety and the quality of ingredients.
However for all the purchasing power exercised by US women, not very many feel understood by the businesses they buy from. In fact, a report published on the She-conomy blog, reveals that 59 percent of women feel misunderstood as consumers by foodservice marketers, and 91 percent say advertisers in general do not understand them.
Studies indicate that women do not respond well to marketing campaigns that tell them what they should or should not like. Women are more responsive to campaigns that provide hard, factual evidence, which in turn allows them the opportunity to make their own informed decisions based on the information provided. Value-based marketing is critical to attracting the female consumer, and unfortunately that is one area in which the foodservice industry seems suffering.
Many brands in the foodservice industry still rely on low price points as the cornerstone of marketing strategies. Even brands with female-friendly menus or healthful options are not doing an effective job of advertising those options effectively. Restaurants that target the “healthy mindset” first in their advertising have seen a significant traffic increase from female consumers. Women in general want options that more wholesome. These options do not necessarily have to be low-calorie or low-fat, but they want the options to be healthy and fresh.
In terms of beverages, women are the top purchasers of specialty coffee drinks, yogurt drinks, smoothies, iced tea and water. Women are also looking towards beverages that can serve as a meal replacement. Although they are often consuming the same amount of calories, research indicates there is something about consuming a yogurt-based shake or fresh fruit or vegetable smoothie that makes a woman feel emotionally good about her choice.
Research concludes that women have gained tremendous economic influence in the past ten years. Women really do represent the largest economic force in the world, not only through their jobs and purchases, but also through the influence and control they have over their families. While many analysts look towards Millennials to gauge future trends, it is important to remember that, on average, it is the middle-aged mom of two who is shaping the market today.