Australian Business Ignoring Overweight Fat Men

Half the men who are overweight or obese in Australia are not actively incorporating dieting or weight watching into their lifestyle according to new research* by The Leading edge, Australia's foremost insights consultancy. The report based on a trend index of 1,210 18-64 year old Australians hypothesised men are less likely to acknowledge their weight issue because marketing, advertising and media currently neglects them and focuses predominantly on women.

"The trend index found weight issues were the second biggest concern for the Australian public, after the environment, with 78% currently dieting or watching their weight," stated Chris Meredith, Senior Consultant Branding and Innovation, The Leading Edge. "This seemingly high figure however is masking a more significant issue; men are being ignored. Currently 47% of women actively incorporate dieting or weight watching into their lifestyle compared to 33% of men.

"Yet the latest ABS figures** show not only are rates rising, but almost two thirds of men are either overweight or obese. This means there are twice as many overweight men than there are men actually taking any steps to address the problem.

"The Leading Edge believes men are being thrown to the curb in favour of women, who are the targets of most weight loss marketing from manufacturers, retailers and grocery stores. Whilst there are some new products aimed at men trickling onto the market there is still a long way to go to catch up with the plenitude of low-fat/ low-calorie products that are targeted at women."

The trend index also showed that when it came to the issue of weight, people were very self-centred. Australians are much more concerned with their own weight (39% of men and 44% of women) than they were about anyone else's weight in their family. The results showed only 12% of males and 10% of women are most worried about the weight of their spouse/partner/defacto. Consider this: if women are more concerned about themselves than the men in their life; partners, father or sons, then products and services targeted at women are not likely to be bought by women for men. Couple this with a lower concern rate amongst men and the lack of products or services targeted at men, then the situation is not likely to get any better.

"There is a large (and potentially even larger) market here that businesses should be actively looking at targeting. Marketers could start by thinking about the occasions that men would be consuming food and drinks products and then be engaging with men in a relevant way with a healthier product. It could be a potential gold mine.

"Coke Zero is an excellent example of making a low-cal product relevant to men. Diet Coke was positioned as a product for females, whereas Zero is targeting a male audience and has been a huge success. According to ACNielsen, research conducted after the first five weeks of Coke Zero's entry to the market showed the product achieved the highest level of household penetration ever for any beverage, confectionary or personal care launch in Australia," concluded Chris Meredith.

The Leading Edge is a leading provider of insights based strategic consultancy to some of the best businesses and brands in Australia and around the world.

*The Leading Edge Trend Index, 1,210 18 - 64 year olds Tue 6th - Wed 7th May 2008.
** Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends 2007. Article 2102.0: Overweight and obesity