New Market Segment: “housebands”

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 12, 2005

Men, ages ago, brought home the paycheck while women took care of the household including the husband and the children’s daily needs. Not so, today. More and men are taking active roles in the homes as revealed by ACNielsen’s breakthrough qualitative and quantitative research on male homemakers.

In a study mounted locally by the world’s leading provider of market research, information and analysis, ACNielsen uncovered three major segments of male homemakers or housebands (short for house-bound husbands). These are the chance homemakers, choice housebands and the consummate hubbies. The segments were identified based on principal reason/s cited by male homemaker respondents as the cause for them to shift to homemaking, originally a role assigned to wives.

Chance homemakers make up forty five percent (45%) of the male respondents. They have taken to their new role largely because of their present circumstance i.e. they are separated or widowed, have absentee housewives who are working overseas, are single live-alones or are married to women who are not skillful in homemaking.

Choice housebands account for forty one percent (41%) of the respondents. They are presently jobless or work half-time or have more flexible work hours than their wives. Nonetheless, they are sufficiently pragmatic to realize that they can take a more proactive role in their homes thus helping their life partner.

Consummate hubbies make up fourteen percent (14%) of the respondents. These are males who take care of their homes simply because they want their standards in homemaking properly executed.

Much of the tasks of homemakers are limited to simple home repairs, budgeting, menu planning, taking care of the children, shopping in groceries and wet markets and cooking. Only a small number of housebands engage in physically, laborious tasks like ironing of clothes, laundering, dishwashing and house cleaning. Other members of the family or the house help assist in these areas.

Starting Them Young

Interestingly, a man’s upbringing has a lot to do with the likelihood of engaging in homemaking activities. Male homemakers have been trained, while still children, to do housework like cooking and taking care of younger siblings. Others, though, have a natural propensity for homemaking.

Buying Behavior

Male homemakers have a high affinity for brands, are less experimental and are not partial to impulse buying. Also, they are likely to be more brand-loyal. Housebands are cautious about the brands they buy and are more responsive to rational and functional messages. They study product labels closely. Also, they value word of mouth endorsements and are highly influenced by their family. For them,
advertising and related media are mere sources of reinforced messaging, rather than a source of awareness.

They exhibit high affinity for brands specially with those belonging to categories that include medicines, coffee, milk and personal hygiene products.

Implications To Marketing Strategy

1. The male homemaker is a strong emergent market. It is likely to be the future’s most important consumer segment as more and more women become highly involved in their careers and the workplace. However, marketing to housebands require a different marketing approach altogether.

2. Establishing brand trust is highly important when targeting the male homemaker market. Housebands are cautious buyers. Thus, brands with strong, positive heritage are likely to attract this market. New products, on the other hand, will have to exert greater marketing effort in both above the line and below the line activities as male homemakers are heavily influenced by word of mouth endorsements.

3. Family is the primary influencer of the male homemaker market. Thus, key to winning the male homemaker is to achieve visibility among their influencers.

4. A product’s packaging label may yet be the final clincher in the male homemaker’s buying decision. Marketers must provide insightful information even on the product’s packaging.

5. Male homemakers are rare shifters. Keep them happy and marketers have a steady stream of customers for life.