in Data & Insights

Men Buy Cat Food Too: Uncovering Demographics of Common Consumer Purchases

People have long identified as either dog people or cat people, but what does a dog or cat person actually look like? Is there any truth to the “cat lady” stereotype? It turns out that people who buy cat food do skew older than their dog-food-buying counterparts. While they are more likely than the average Internet population to be over 45 years old and have a graduate school degree, they are not more likely to be female. Maybe it’s time we started talking about “cat men.”

We looked at the demographic profiles for purchasers of other common consumer products, and found some unexpected patterns. Read on to learn what processed cheese has in common with granola, and how that might inform your next advertising campaign.

Connecting Real In-store Behavior with Online Audiences

To find demographics of offline purchasers, we applied Quantcast’s online profile data and modeling capabilities to our Spendographics targeting product, which enables marketers to reach heavy purchasers of common consumer products, based on in-store purchase behavior tracked from over 100,000 participating households via IRI.

Many of the results were in line with our expectations; for example, it should not be a surprise to see that females aged 25-34 heavily over-indexed on baby purchases. However, we did uncover some interesting audience profiles.

A Makeup For Each Age

While females unsurprisingly over-index for cosmetic goods, various age groups display clear preferences for different types of accessories.

Cosmetic accessories such as makeup applicators and sharpeners over-index with the 25- to 34-year-old demographic, but facial and nail accessories skew towards an older audience. Products for nail polish and nail polish removal, or facial cosmetics such as blush and concealer, over-index among the 45- to 54 and 55- to 64-year-old audiences.

Interestingly, in the larger personal care category beyond cosmetics, the only product that does not skew heavily female is mouthwash, in which case buyers are 28% more likely to be male compared to the average Internet population.

Energy Drinks: The Classic Coffee or the Modern Red Bull?

There is a clear distinction between a traditional audience that prefers a cup of coffee as its energy source, as opposed to the more modern audience that prefers energy drinks such as Red Bull or Rockstar.

Coffee over-indexes among consumers skewing older and with a higher level of education and income. Meanwhile, energy drinks are much more popular among the 25- to 34-year-old demographic and with drinkers who see a household income of less than $50k.

Food That’s Fast and Easy, or Healthy and Natural?

Looking at food purchases revealed a gender split that indicates females prefer natural, healthier foods while males prefer foods that are simple to prepare, over-indexing on items such as frozen breakfasts and pasta.

The idea of males preferring low-effort foods might also explain the fact that snacks such as granola bars and crackers also over-indexed among males, despite marketing around such products often focusing on a female audience.

Takeaways for Marketers and Publishers

When targeting granola and snack bar purchasers (or cat food for that matter), marketers should not forget about men. Intuition may be a good place to start for understanding who purchases a product, but our look at the actual composition of product purchasers shows the value of using data to dig a level deeper. Marketers can run a more effective campaign with a tool such as Quantcast Spendographics, targeting offline purchasers down to the level of individual products and brands. Learn more about Quantcast targeting on our website, or reach out to us at

Posted by Nick Binder, Product Marketing Manager