Gender Studies

A few years ago everyone in tech began pretending they were onto something new and creative:  “Big Data Analytics”.  Big Data is one of those hoaxy terms that never meant much to start with, but after being dragged through the marketing mud for a few years it has become yet another completely worthless term.  But since everyone is doing their Big Data Analytics these days, maybe it’s time for Wrong Direction Farm to get into the game.  Big data for us isn’t all that big.  In fact, we were able to do all the analytics on a scrap of paper without writing a single database query.

We went through our 2014 meat sales register and did a quick gender tally for all our customers.  We counted females and male customers.  In some cases, we sell to couples, but usually there is one person who takes the lead in ordering.  The result?  64% of our orders come from females.  This is an interesting statistic because it is a bit different from recent national news stories on grocery shopping where the split is much closer to 50-50.

Why are we skewed female?  Our little Big Data experiment can only get us so far, and we’ve already run out of data.  From here out, we’ll do what most folks do when statistics are exhausted:  make it up.  We can tell the rest of the story based on observations.  Needless to say, this isn’t based on carefully managed focus groups; everything is related to our conversations with customers, filtered through the matrices of our biases, assumptions, and interests.

To begin with the grossest generalization, we’ve noticed that men find us because of bacon, women find us because of health.  We could qualify that statement to death, but suffice it to say that we’ve seen a very strong gender split in customer objectives.  A shockingly disproportionate number of the female customers are coming to us with a story about an autoimmune or chronic disease.  Allergies and autism spectrum are also big issues.  And others express a more general concern about food additives, hormones, GMOs, etc.  Although we can’t make any FDA-approved claims about the nutritional superiority of our food, we have observed that health is the primary concern for our female customers.  Our male customers are a bit harder to categorize (maybe the uncommunicative male stereotype has more to do with this), but flavor and the sheer Neanderthal joy of having a freezer full of meat seem to be the primary mannish concerns (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself and projecting this on other men).

So if the breakdown is 64% of our customers are females and primarily buying because of health concerns, does that mean that our food is perceived to be healthier than it is tasty?  Is our meat like beets — good for you but not very appetizing?  Or are health concerns more urgent than flavor concerns, motivating women to seek us out?  Maybe we need to do some more analytics to find out.

4 Comments on “Gender Studies

  1. What do you mean beets are not great? I love them. Especially the stems and greens.

    • Sorry Jerry. One of my failings… I try them a few times each year, hoping that I’ll get over the hurdle. And although I can tolerate beets, I just can’t love them.
      Two years ago we grew Mangels for the livestock. The pigs and chickens weren’t too interested (although the pigs loved the greens), so I made a five gallon batch of Mangel beer using this old recipe as a guide. It turned out a very strange beer, tasting like beets and dirt (in a good, earthy sense). It reminded me of something shepherds would be drinking in a Thomas Hardy novel. That mangel beer was the closest I’ve come to enjoying beets.
      But I’m sure we’ll plant another patch of beets again this year and I’ll try again to learn to love them.

  2. I didn’t read what immediately came to my mind: Women as liberated as they are still do most of the shopping, and they are good at finding the best quality for the best price (the best value). Not sexist, just an observation…

    • So there you go Vince, you just got the title of the next big bestseller: Men Are From Meat, Women Are From Value.
      Slap that book together, and before you know it you’ll be getting calls from the Today Show or Good Morning, America.

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