Once upon a time gender stereo-types rang true. Men were the breadwinners - the captains of industry who worked to support their wives and children. Women were housewives, bringing up the children and running the home. Today, things are different.
There are more working women and more house-husbands for a start, and as gender roles change so do lifestyles and the wants and needs of these people as consumers. Obviously understanding consumers is crucial in today's competitive marketplace which is why two recent reports on men and women's changing lifestyles from Mintel make such interesting reading.
Did you know, for instance, that women spend an average 2.6 hours on a weekday and 2.7 hours at weekends doing housework. It might not sound a lot but work it into a 24-hour day that also includes sleeping, working and running around after the kids and it's a sizeable chunk of time.
Mintel found that every day women spend some of their time doing household tasks such as food shopping and housework. The research revealed that although women have high standards they split into four very different categories. First there are the 'homemakers', who made up 31% of the women surveyed. These females admitted that housework gave them a certain satisfaction. Slovens came next, accounting for 23% of the women. This group loathed doing housework - instead they like to spend their free time watching TV. The 'unconcerned' came next, accounting for 22% of those surveyed, and these women felt housework was a low priority. Instead of cleaning, they wanted to be out socialising.
The remaining 20% of women surveyed were the 'reluctant homemakers' who generally can't bear untidiness but don't actually enjoy doing the housework.
On top of all this time spent on household chores, women do manage to get some time to themselves - on average they spend two hours on a weekday and 2.3 hours at weekends on personal care, although that time includes necessities such as eating, bathing and showering.
Needless to say, lack of time for themselves is what most worries women, followed by concerns about people close to them; health problems; and not earning enough for the kind of lifestyle they would like.
Thankfully, help is at hand for these busy women and much of it comes from their mothers. Just over a third of grandmothers say they often help out with their grandchildren and 16% look after them while the child's parents go to work.
Meanwhile, men seem happy with their lot. Mintel's research found that older men are happier than younger ones; AB men are the happiest overall; married men are happier than those who are single or divorced/separated; but men who are widowed are nearly as happy as those who are married.
Time, money and health are the three major worries for men in all age groups, though there are differences in emphasis as they grow older. Not earning enough for the kind of lifestyle they want is a major concern for all ages. This would seem to emphasise the fact that they still see themselves as the main breadwinner and tend to have high expectations about their ideal lifestyle.
Debt is a particularly important issue for men in their early twenties, while for those aged 25-34 (many of whom will be combining becoming a dad for the first time with the demands of a career) lack of time for themselves and being stressed and overworked are particular problems.
It's no surprise really that the question of retirement planning emerges as a prominent issue once men reach 35-44. This also looms large for those aged 45-54, together with their own health problems. Health is top of the list of concerns for men aged 55+.
But what about the so-called 'new man'? Does he actually exist? Attitudes to male grooming are perhaps the best barometer of this and although there has been dramatic growth in the male grooming market, only 16% of men actually admit to using face creams regularly.
But boys still like their toys. Men aged 35 and under are most likely to say that they could not live without their mobile phone and that it's important to have all the latest technology. More than half of all men aged under 35 use their mobile phone every day and nearly one in five of under-35s use their mobile as a replacement for a fixed line.
Meanwhile, older men (55-plus) are more likely to say that there is not enough face-to-face communication anymore and there is too much emphasis on technology.
When it comes to cars, 38% of the men surveyed agreed that they enjoy driving and a similar proportion (37%) are interested in what goes on under the bonnet. While just over one in five could be described as 'boy racers' who enjoy a 'fast, punchy style of driving', they are far outnumbered by men with a conscience who are worried about the pollution and congestion caused by cars.
Looking to the future, taking more holidays is the top priority for women, with 43% saying that one of their ambitions for the next five years is to go on more holidays. This is the most mentioned future plan for all except 16- to 19- and 25- to 34-year-olds.
Three in 10 women plan to save more money for the future, and 22% have set their sights on moving house during the next five years.
Saving for the future is the main priority over the next five years for men aged under 35 but when they hit 35, taking more holidays becomes the top priority.
Career ambitions are particularly important for men under 35, with promotions, career changes and/or finishing educational courses high on the agenda for all groups. After 35, however, the emphasis shifts to working fewer hours, as men begin to see the attractions of 'winding down'.
So just what can we deduce from all this? Well, despite the roles men and women take in their lives, they are all busy, bordering on stressed. They want things to make their lives easier and that's where you the 'convenience' retailer can help.

Battle of the sexes


Women are better educated than men - there are more women than men in both higher and further education
There are more women working than ever before - there were 13 million women in employment in 2004
However, women's hourly earnings are still less than those of men, and women are less likely to go into professional or managerial occupations on graduation
Women are getting married later - the average age was 29 in 2003
More women are marrying younger men
They are having children later - the average age was 30 years in 2003, and they are having fewer children
More women are remaining childless throughout their lives
More women are lone parents
59% of mothers of children aged 0-4 are working
Men are catching up with women in terms of their enjoyment of cooking
Looking well dressed is almost as much of a priority for men as for women
Men are catching up with women on their spending on clothes - they also like to wear designer clothes but many still hate shopping for clothes
Men are slightly more likely than women to enjoy driving and they are twice as likely to say they like to drive fast
Men are twice as likely as women to be prepared to pay more for good-quality beer