The male care consumer: An important and emerging care buyer
The current male care consumer market is $280B or more in annual revenue
Up to 32M male consumers could enter the care market or shift from occasional to routine use of paid care
Men reported being willing to spend more money, compared to women, on 90% of care products and services surveyed
men who bear family caregiving responsibilities
could be the next big growth opportunity for care economy companies
Care has a long history of being highly gendered, with unpaid care work falling mostly on the shoulders of women. Some of this is biology, of course; the impact of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding shape the way mothers interact with their children from the very start.1 But much of this is socially constructed–though great strides have been made in gender equality, women are still often expected to be the primary caregivers in doctor’s offices, the ones to procure services for aging relatives, and/or manage the countless tasks involved in keeping a household running. As a result, care-oriented products and services have typically de-prioritized men, actively targeting women as their primary buyers and users instead. When in fact men are already making 280B+ of care purchases today, and hold immense potential for entrepreneurs if they were actively targeted and designed for them.

We believe that those building in the care economy must think differently about both the market and men’s role in it as an important consumer segment. While it is true that men on average spend less time than women on care, dynamics are changing. The Pew Research on Social and Demographic Trends reports that fathers more than doubled their time spent on housework (4 vs 10 hours/week) and child care (2.5 vs 7 hours/week) in the last 50 years.
Our consumer survey found that men self-report responsibility for over 70% of care purchases – driving well over our conservative $280B in annual revenue for the male care consumer market.2 Whether as a father finding a sleep consultant for his infant or an adult son hiring an in-home aid for his aging mother, men are prioritizing and purchasing care for themselves and their loved ones like never before.

Care entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to effectively double their market opportunity and reach a whole new demographic of care consumers by simply targeting men – all without making significant changes to their value proposition or core offerings. To capitalize on this untapped white space, builders in the care economy must meet men in this evolving moment in order to serve more modern families with the meaningful solutions they deserve. Care companies that want to stay relevant and up-to-date on where the culture is headed and untapped consumer appetite exist will shape marketing and outreach efforts to acknowledge men’s increasing role in caring for kids, aging parents, and others. It’s good for mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, society and the bottom line.

1 Note: While we understand that not all parents identify as men or women, the sample size of this survey prevented us from gathering meaningful information about gender non-binary parents.
2 See SIDEBAR: A $280B+ male care consumer market.
Top Three Insights on Men & Care
Men are ready and willing to pay for care.
Men are simply more willing than women to pay for help. This pattern is seen across the care spectrum, from child care, to adult or elder care services, and even when men are presented with a specific care service to purchase.
For example in the child care space:
  • Men are 13% more open to paying for childcare coordination.
  • They are 13% more open to paying for someone to cook meals for their child.
  • Across child care tasks, men were up to 29% less likely than women to say that they felt they needed to do it all themselves without paid help.
For adult or elder care services, men were equally or more likely to say they were “definitely” interested in outsourcing every adult care task presented in the survey. For example, nearly 6% of men said they would definitely prefer outsourcing the coordination of care for the adult they care for (the highest option on a five point scale), compared to only 4% of women.
For specific care services, we saw that men were more likely than women to buy care services for both care matching platforms that help parents and caregivers find each other, as well as cleaning and maintenance services.
At each income level, men report a greater openness to paying for care services than women.
For example for men from households with annual income of less than $50K:
Cooking for your child
56.4% of men were interested in paying for help cooking for their child, compared to 47.6% of women with the same household income.
Palliative care & Hospice
$94 MORE
Men were willing to spend $94 more on hospice/palliative care for older adults, compared to women in the same income bracket.
Men’s higher interest, as compared to women, in outsourcing certain care tasks is consistent across different income levels.
Both women and men are key decision-makers on family care purchases.
In our survey, contrary to the perception that women are typically the sole and main decision-maker in care purchases, we discovered that both men and women self-report equally meaningful decision-making3 responsibilities. What is most telling, is that men self-report at similar levels to women, indicating men are making or perceive themselves to be making a meaningful portion of family care purchase decisions and feel the responsibility of this role.
As is common in consumer insights surveys, self-reported numbers from men and women in this investigation added up to more than 100%. For our purposes, precision is less important than aspiration; clearly both women and men see themselves as active care consumers, empowered to pursue products and support that will ease their burden.
3 A decision-maker is anyone who indicated that they make 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of the decisions in that care category. Mean percentages have been discounted by these amounts based on respondents’ answers.
While it is surprising that men self-reported higher levels of decision-making responsibilities comparatively to women in the household management category, this was largely driven by a subcategory of home repair and maintenance. In this subcategory, 80% of men compared to 69% of women self-reported more decision-making responsibilities.
Men report higher levels of responsibility for adult care purchase decisions, in particular, compared to women. In fact, across all 10 adult care types, men were more likely to indicate being the primary decision maker, compared to women. For example, men report that they are nearly 10% more likely to be the primary decision maker for adult social wellbeing services, such as gardening, music/dance, cooking, and community networking. Men also report being nearly 10% more likely to be the primary decision maker for long-term care insurance for older adults.
A $280B+ male care consumer market
Men self-report that they are responsible for 72-76% of care purchases across care types. To take a conservative haircut, even if men’s self-reports were 40% over-inflated, men would still be influencing more than $280B of care economy spend every year.
To calculate this number, we took the percentage of care decisions men self-report to be responsible for across infant and childcare, household management, aging-in-place and non-home long-term care and applied it to the market size of each care sub-category. The sum of those figures, with a 40% haircut to account for potential male over-reporting, is $280B – indicating that the annual revenue of the male care consumer market is likely even more than $280B.
Men are willing to spend more on care than women.
Based only on their interest in purchasing care products and services, and their reported 72-76% of care-purchase decision making, men would already be a compelling segment for care companies to target. But men’s importance as care consumers goes beyond that as well: they are also ready to spend more than women without consulting others (a fact that, yes, makes many female partners chuckle).
  • Men report being willing to spend up to 55% more than women for the same care products and services. For example, for long-term care insurance for older or disabled adults, men are willing to spend $65 more than women (a 25% difference) on a single purchase without consulting others.
  • Men’s willingness to spend more (in dollar amount) than women holds true across a wide range of care services and products. From long-term care insurance to learning products for their child, men report being willing to spend more than women on a single purchase or one-time service without consulting others. This is most significant when it comes to new parent technology, such as apps to measure an infant’s health, where men are willing to spend nearly $50 more than women without consulting others, a 42% difference.
The difference in willingness to spend is even more significant for dads of young children. Dads with kids under age 5 are willing to spend more on a single purchase for certain childcare, eldercare and homecare products and services than women with kids under 5 or parents of either gender with older kids.
  • Dads with kids under 5 are willing to spend $197 on a one-time service of direct supervision of their child out of the home (daycare, camp), 25% more than women with kids under 5.
  • Dads with kids under 5 who also have adult-care responsibilities are willing to spend $245 on a one-time service of daily essential activities for older adults (meals, personal care, home repair, delivery, transportation), about 45% more than the survey average and nearly 60% more than women with kids under 5.
  • And, dads with kids under 5 are willing to spend $152 on a one-time service of laundry or laundromat services, 70% more than the survey average, and 90% more than women with kids under 5.
To reach more families, care economy companies should look to men.
Men’s expanding role in the care economy is a win-win-win. For men, it means greater investment in the people they love and the meaning that comes from that. For women–in the case of heterosexual, two-parent families–it means more equality, less stress, and more time for professional pursuits. And for care companies, it means tapping into an existing $280B market opportunity and a strengthened bottom line.

Care companies looking to spark this triad of benefits need to think rigorously about their assumptions while designing products and services. How can you include fathers’ and sons’ perspectives at every stage of development, understanding they may interact differently with an offering than their co-parents and sisters might? Care companies also need to think strategically about how they spread the word about opportunities for consumers willing to pay for support. Men, for example, are more responsive to digital marketing than women–an interesting place to start.

The companies that take this expanding demographic–men willing to pay for care support–seriously and approach them creatively stand to benefit handsomely, and contribute to a more equal society in the process.
Source: A national survey with n=2485 respondents to understand household willingness to pay for products and services that reduce the time spent on household management tasks. Conducted in April 2021 by McKinsey & Co.