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Being gender-aware in health and wellness advertising

5 minute read | Akshara Risbud, Senior Research Executive, Jake Erwich, Ad Intel Insights Analyst | October 2019

When it comes to health and wellness advertising, there is an opportunity for marketers to better engage with their audience by being more gender-aware in their messages. Traditionally, health and wellness ads have targeted women, but over the past five years the number of Australian men who say they prioritise physical fitness has increased by 17%, and so has their desire for a balanced lifestyle (+16%). 

Men show a keen interest in being clued-up about their health and wellbeing with 39% of men aged over 40 actively seeking advice and recommendations. Advertisers in this space could connect with this group by gearing their advertising toward the key media they consume – across both digital and print. In May 2019, 5.5 million men visited health, fitness and nutrition sites, up 15% when compared with last year, while 2.1 million have read a men’s or men’s health magazine in the past 12 months. 

There has never been a better time to apply a gender-intelligent lens to improve advertising engagement in food, feelings and fitness. But how can marketers change their creatives to effectively resonate with the health-conscious Aussie bloke? 

Food for thought

Men’s relationship with food and beverages is changing. As a result, marketers should be auditing the eating habits of male consumers before deciding how to best communicate with them.

Almost one-in-three men buy nutritious snacks, a 5% increase over the last five years. When it comes to avoidance, sugar is the top consideration with one-in-three men saying it is very important for them to avoid sugar. MSG, cholesterol and fat are the other top candidates actively avoided by men. The other important considerations for them are a good source of fibre (28%) and high protein (24%). Almost one-in-three men now strongly agree “a low-fat diet is a way of life”, up 10% in the last five years; while 4.4 million Aussie men say they avoid processed food.

The rise of healthy fast-food alternatives such as online meal kits, pre-made fresh and healthy meals available in-store, or diet meals delivered to your home, has made it easier for consumers to avoid processed food. One-in-10 men under 40 currently claim to use meal kits and they are 44% more likely than the general population to do so. Additionally, there is a growing trend in vegetarianism with 15% of men stating that their diets are mainly vegetarian, up 45% versus five years ago.

Men are also latching on to new-age food trends such as organic, probiotic or fermented foods and plant-based foods. Around 14% of men say that organic is a very important consideration when making food-related decisions; while 12% say fermented or probiotic foods are a very important consideration in their diet.

When it comes to drinking, Australian men claim to be consuming less alcohol overall these days (46%), and this is more pronounced among men aged over 40. We are also seeing men aged under 40 opting for healthier or ‘better for you’ beverages: one-in-five men under 40 have had herbal teas in the past three months (up 20% versus five years ago), and 13% have  embraced the ‘Kombucha craze’ at least once in the past 12 months.

Feeling good and fitness fanatics

With Aussie men joining women in making healthier choices and enjoying more active lifestyles, how do marketers reach them and how can they appeal to those who aren’t converted yet?

Men want to look good and feel good and as such are turning to exercise. One-in-three visit a gym or fitness centre, up 18% in the last five years. Men are also looking to keep fit in other ways, integrating exercise into other activities they’re interested in –  bushwalking, indoor sports, football and AFL are all on the rise, with the top sports for men being fishing (20% have participated in the last 12 months) and swimming (16% have participated in the last 12 months).

Men are also supplementing their healthy active lifestyles, just under one-in-three men use vitamins, and over 20,000 Aussie men are using weight loss products, which is up 20% in the last five years – supporting the increased focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Compared to women, men are more concerned about diabetes, heart problems and cholesterol, and quite rightly –  as men are also at higher risk of heart disease.




  • Nielsen Consumer & Media View, National Database, 12 months to May 2015 – 2019. Base: 14+

Nielsen Consumer & Media View is a rolling survey of more than 20,000 Australians aged 14 and above. It captures their lifestyles, behaviours, passions and attitudes toward almost every aspect of their life. It’s great for helping advertisers understand the everyday Australian consumer that they want and need to communicate with. We also include media consumption data with the fusion of official TV, radio and digital audience ratings to get a rounded view of how brands can best target and reach their target audiences. To find out more about how CMV can help you more effectively plan your marketing, please contact your Nielsen representative.


  • Nielsen Digital Panel, text, May 2019, PC P2+, Smartphone and Tablet P18+, family and lifestyles category, health, fitness and nutrition subcategory

Nielsen Digital Panel is a text audience-centric cross-device measurement solution for smartphones, tablets and PCs. It leverages Nielsen’s home and work panels, fused with our smartphone and tablet panels, giving an independent, cross-device view of digital media consumption. Nielsen Digital Panel is only measuring ‘static’ content across websites & applications.


  • Nielsen Ad Intel Portfolio, Out Of Home advertising, July 2018 – February 2019. Blackmores, Health & Beauty category, Vitamins and Minerals/Supplements sub-category

Nielsen Ad Intel Portfolio provides creative intelligence and ad tracking for competitive brand level ad activity across the evolving media landscape. Search, view and analyse advertising creatives, ad activity and ad spend across television, newspapers, magazines, radio, outdoor and digital display and video.

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