The notion that women differ from men would not seem terribly groundbreaking, yet a casual trip down most food aisles reveals a “one size fits all” approach. Generically speaking, such a strategy is not unsound: many foods are equally beneficial for either gender. However, a closer inspection reveals a variety of products tailored to meet women's nutritional needs; guys are less fortunate.

Certain drugs are metabolized differently by men and women. Women resist viruses better than men. Their smaller hearts beat faster than guys'. Sadly, a look at the major health indicators shows they are more likely to suffer non-fatal, disabling illnesses than men. Successful treatment of such illnesses varies by gender. For that matter, the risk factors for many of these illnesses vary according to, yes, gender. As such, manufacturers should consider these aspects when developing and marketing products addressing an illness.

Methods to communicate to each gender can vary as well. Gender marketing efforts center around the manner by which each gender processes information and channels that knowledge into buying decisions. Males, for instance, do not want to linger in the buying process, reach a decision quickly and often fail to evaluate the diverse options. Females, on the other hand, prefer to be informed about their options and will spend as much time as it takes during this evaluation, reflecting their concerns about how the decision and product will affect them.

As a result, it should be no surprise that women typically are more knowledgeable about healthier foods and the benefits of fortification. With this knowledge comes an awareness and willingness to try products with healthful ingredients. Not to say men are not concerned about health issues, but they are not the earliest adopters of products addressing those issues. However, as benefits become more widely known and accepted, men are expected to incorporate such items.

Taking the Stages

One issue of particular interest to the large number of Baby Boomer women has been menopause. Some 35 million women are currently menopausal, with 10 million more peri-menopausal, and means of addressing this stage of life vary. A variety of products introduced around the world are available for women facing menopause, and two of the most recent come from Celestial Seasonings (Boulder, Colo.). The company's Wellness Tea line has added Menopause Nite Tea and Menopause Day Tea. The caramel-flavored former is made from black cohosh and valerian extracts, with natural herbs and vitamins to address symptoms that may interfere with sleep patterns interrupted by menopause. The latter is made with black cohosh and red clover, extracts used for centuries to address women's issues and reduce hot flashes. In the U.K., retail pharmacist Boots (Nottingham, U.K.) has launched one of Europe's first such products, a range of shakes and smoothies aimed at menopausal women. Made with plant estrogen-rich soya, these are found in chocolate soya shake, vanilla soya shake and smoothie varieties.

At the other end of the spectrum, pregnant women and new moms have several products addressing their changing health needs. Golden Temple of Oregon's (Eugene, Ore.) Yogi Tea has introduced several organic teas for women: Nursing Mom, Mother to Be, Moon Cycle and Raspberry Leaf. Organic raspberry leaf appears in the latter two products and, according to Yogi Tea, has been used by midwives and Western herbalists for thousands of years to “strengthen and prepare the uterus during pregnancy.” The ingredient promises to “reduce the pain of menstruation and to strengthen and tone the uterus,” while also helping to maintain gastrointestinal, respiratory tract and cardiovascular health. The Moon Cycle variety balances hormones and eases discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome, including regulating mood swings, cramps and other minor symptoms.

The Nursing Mom variety boasts several ingredients to improve the new mom's health. Fennel seed supports milk production in nursing mothers and, combined with fenugreek and anise, has traditional use as galactagogues, agents that promote lactation.

For pregnant women with upset stomachs, Preggie Pops (West Hills, Calif.) are found at some maternity stores and online. Developed by registered nurses, the naturally flavored lollipops ease nausea associated with morning sickness.

Women's health issues are the focus of a number of beverages, in particular. While teas formulated with healthful benefits are numerous, some beverages are designed specifically not only for the woman's palate, but for her particular health needs. For instance, DrinkWell (Tempe, Ariz.) has attempted to create an entirely new grocery segment. The company's Liquiceutial line of products is an effort to enhance the benefits of solid dietary supplements. According to DrinkWell, a proprietary pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing process converts these supplements into a stable liquid form, allowing greater absorption and bioavailability.

The physician-formulated Breast Health Formula is touted as the first liquid nutritional product designed specifically to promote healthy breast tissue. Purportedly acting as a detoxifying agent, the product promises to help eliminate excess hormones. The breast health formula boasts potassium D-glucarate, a form of glycolic acid patented by MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston). Naturally present in fruits and vegetables, glucarate supports the body's major detoxification pathways.

Male Service

While generally regarded as a disease of concern only to women, breast cancer has been on the rise in men. Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center admit the occurrence is rare, predicted to affect 1,600 men in 2004, but it is on the rise--by 25% over the past 25 years. Dr. Sharon Giordano, who led the study, suspects obesity may be a factor in the increase: breast cancer in both sexes has been linked to estrogen, and fat cells produce the hormone.

For men, though, the leading cause of cancer and number-two cause of cancer deaths is prostate cancer. One in five men is expected to develop the disease in their lifetime, with the total rising to 3.795 million in 2005 and a 30% jump in those aged 50 to 64. However, few foods and beverages have yet to target this malady. A search of foods and beverages on the Global New Products Database (GNPD, Chicago) for “prostate” finds only two foods with the word mentioned. One of these, Wellness Tea from Almased (St. Petersburg, Fla.), refers to relieving prostate pain, but also helps with “menstrual discomfort and menopausal problems,” making it difficult to regard this as a chiefly male-oriented product.

In supplement aisles, several products can be found for men, including Bayer Consumer Care's (Pittsburgh) One A Day Men's Health Formula, which promises “to support a healthy prostate and a healthy heart.” Lycopene, selenium, vitamin E and zinc combine for prostate health, while calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C help maintain normal blood pressure. However, most supplements targeting men have one of two objectives: natural male enhancement or bodybuilding.

The simple fact is that the few food products oriented toward men are not marketed based on healthfulness, rather they tend to stress larger portion sizes. Swanson's (Pinnacle Foods Corp., Cherry Hill, N.J.) Hungry-Man dinners have the tagline, “It's Good to Be Full,” a good thing considering the company's launch of 1lb. and 1.5lb XXL versions of such fare as Salisbury Steak, Classic Fried Chicken and Angus Beef Meatloaf. The latter boasts 48g of total fat, 70g of carbohydrates and 3480mg of sodium (145% of the daily value).

All of which brings up another point: With the widely reported concerns about the impact of obesity in the U.S., indeed around the world, male-oriented foods typically still boast of catering to bigger appetites, and the phenomenon is not solely American. One of Nestlé's (Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland) biggest successes in the U.K., the chunky Yorkie confection, is one of a growing number of chocolate-based products for men. Yorkie's 70g of chocolate is split into five pieces, and an extension into the ice cream market has the product billed as “Bloke-sized ice cream chunks.” As of yet, few foods for men address overweight issues, presenting a potentially substantial market for quality, weight-conscious products for men, particularly in the wake of the protein-friendly, low-carbohydrate diet trend and the stereotypical male fondness for grilling.

Few foods at all are geared toward men in the U.S., quite a dilemma considering even female British dogs have their “own” food. Kennel Nutrition's (Ripon, North Yorkshire) Vitalin brand boasts Bitch-Diet, a dry dog food specially formulated for female dogs. Bitch-Diet is formulated with high levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene and organic selenium. Yes, British female dogs have more-healthful foods specifically targeting their needs than American men.

Male-driven beverages, have likewise, been few and far between. One attempt to reach males with a flavored alcoholic beverage (FAB) never made it out of testing. Vibe, Coors' (Golden, Colo.) malternative, was marketed as Zima's “wild cousin,” perhaps not the wisest of marketing tactics. Aimed at men, the spirit-based beverage was off the market within a year. Brewers touting the low-carb aspects of their beers have found more success, as evidenced by strong debuts of Michelob Ultra (Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis) and Coors' Aspen Edge.

Women, meanwhile, are the target for a number of foods and beverages, but some products touted as being “for women” actually would serve either gender well. While a product such as Viactiv (McNeil Consumer Products, Fort Washington, Pa.) clearly has been formulated specifically for women, Balance Bar's (Carpinteria, Calif.) Oasis nutritional bars are presented as “The Complete Nutrition Bar for Women.” Certainly, the inclusion of soy protein is an enticement for women, but men also would be well-served by additional vitamins and calcium fortification.

In fact, considering the rates of osteoporosis in the U.S., calcium fortification would be a wise course for any male-oriented products. Osteoporosis is widely acknowledged as a condition affecting females, but the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF, Washington) reports 12 million men at risk, with men over 50 suffering from it more than from prostate cancer. In total, 28 million women and 5 million men suffer from osteoporosis, signaling a market for bone health for men as well. For that matter, with the severe lack of products promoting any aspect of men's health, manufacturers would be well-served to consider targeting the health-deprived male. (A session on health initiatives will be held at this year's New Products Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information, contact Marge Whalen, 630-694-4347 or

Sex Advice

Tips to note when selling to each gender.


  • Like a circular process
  • Need assistance visualizing abstract concepts
  • Like having options
  • Are able to multi-task
  • Process information externally (verbally)
  • Tend to work in teams
  • Take their time in making decisions

  • Follow a linear process
  • Understand spatial relationships
  • Prefer limited options
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Process information internally
  • Make decisions alone
  • Tend to make decisions quickly

    Source: Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine