Food marketers could best target “maturing adult” consumers in the US by focusing on the themes of age and gender rather than income or education, according to a new national survey of 500 mature adults.

This section of society, aged 55- to 74-years old, believe they are controlling their health through their diet, however despite generally “talking thin”, about 51% acknowledged in the survey that they eat fastfood at least once a fortnight. However 50% of the group identifies fruit as their favourite healthy snack, with apples and bananas most popular.

Meanwhile, the survey found that maturing adults are almost three times as likely to graze during the day rather than eat three full meals, and nearly 75% are aware of ethnic foods such as quesadillas and sushi.

The dine-out frequency is one of the few behaviours found to be tied to income and employment; 32% with income US$75,000 or greater dine out 3 times a week or more, while only 8% of those with income under US$35,000 dine out as often.

Importantly, this group has embraced technology, and nearly 75% have Internet access, with 6 in 10 of those with access logging on to the Internet daily or more often. More than 80% watch more than two hours of television daily and 6 in 10 own a cell phone.

“This consumer group is not sitting on the sidelines while younger people are jumping on hot trends regarding food, or even technology,” said Kimberly Egan, a partner at San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development (CCD)/Wharf Research, the company that conducted the survey: “The real find here is that consumer marketers should be targeting adults by age and gender. It’s more life style/attitude marketing versus income target marketing.”

Related research: Marketing Food & Drinks to Senior Consumers: Targeting the Grey Market

The Grey Consumer Market (UK)