Beef Pho, Chicken Pho, Men, Women: A Complex Relationship

Updated 07-19-14. Here's a long running poll on pho preferences among men and women (add your 2 cents if you haven't taken the poll, click "Vote" below):

What best describes you and your pho preference.

  • Male : Pho bo (36%, 348 Votes)
  • Female: Pho bo (25%, 239 Votes)
  • Male: Pho ga (8%, 75 Votes)
  • Female: Pho ga (11%, 104 Votes)
  • Male: Vegan pho (4%, 35 Votes)
  • Female: Vegan pho (9%, 84 Votes)
  • Male: Other pho. (3%, 30 Votes)
  • Female: Other pho. (2%, 16 Votes)
  • No preference. (3%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 959

Vote

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It's common knowledge that beef pho is the most popular pho. But at any given time, do you notice that men are likely to go for pho bo (beef pho) and women like pho ga (chicken pho) when given the choice? What about vegan pho? Well, based on my observation of pho diners at Vietnamese restaurants and pho shops everywhere I went, and with validation of this poll's result, men's and women's pho preferences are pretty clear.

According to the poll results, here are some important direct observations. Please note that while the poll continues to be dynamic with results changing all the time, numbers posted here reflect a snapshot in time, so a few numbers maybe off until I have a chance to update the numbers to the dynamic poll results.

  • Beef pho takes 60% of all pho sales (male: 36%, female: 24%)
  • Chicken pho takes 19% of all pho sales (male: 8%, female: 11%)
  • Vegan pho takes 13% of all pho sales (male: 4%, female: 9%)

Beef pho, chicken pho and vegan phoFrom a customer's point of view, it's pretty simple. Make great tasting pho with good service, and customers will give you their money all day long. Make not-so-good pho, and they will go elsewhere. On the other hand, from a restaurateur's point of view, it's not as cut and dried. There are several complex dynamics going on here within these polls results. Here are a few observations that will benefit a restaurant operator:

  • Get chicken and vegan pho going. Beef pho may be popular, but if you make your chicken pho and vegan pho as good tasting as your beef pho, you can draw more customers. Sure there may be some beef pho crossovers, but the important key here is there will also be a step up of new customer count to your pho restaurant. There is definitely room for increased sales, as the market itself already told us that healthier foods are here to stay or become even more important in the future. Last time I check, both chicken pho and vegan pho are healthier than beef pho. There is no reason why a pho chef cannot make great tasting chicken pho and vegan pho good. If they say they can't do it, then I'd say they haven't tried hard enough. And if you make good chicken and vegan pho, then more customers will come.
  • Know you pho cost then make good decision. If you've cost out your pho food costs properly, you'll see that beef pho costs way more to make and serve than either chicken pho or vegan pho. Beef pho ingredients are more costly, and the cooking process is much more complex and time consuming. So from a business standpoint, which pho should be promoted if you can make it great tasting? Chicken and vegan of course. If you can make it by solely offering the best darn chicken and vegan pho in town then more power to you. I'm merely advocating great tasting chicken and vegan pho to increase sales and offerings to your customers. It's all about profit margins, not just total sales.
  • Make healthy pho to increase sales and customer satisfaction. The poll pretty much shows that women are much more health conscious than men when it comes to which pho they choose to eat. In a way, we've all known this. And while the total sales percentage is smaller, both chicken and vegan pho ordered by women outpace chicken and vegan pho ordered by men. This is an important piece of information that, if used correctly, will benefit your pho restaurant and pho customers at the same time. Healthier food demands are on the rise but it is often overlooked. It's time to step up the quality and promote better chicken and especially vegan pho.
  • Know your numbers because numbers don't lie. Population confirmation: If you add all pho percentage together (except the No Preference) by men and then by women, you'll get
    • 48% for men (36% + 8% + 4% + 3%, male) and
    • 44% for women (24% + 11% + 9% + 2%, female).

    This is pretty much a split down the middle of the male/female population, taking into account the fact that men are more likely than women to come in by himself to have a bowl of pho, which is why this data skews slightly higher for male. Although I do not have data on the male/female split that visit Lovingpho.com website and took this poll, I think it's safe to assume an equal male/female population. This strongly validates the results of the poll as reflecting behaviors of the real male/female population.

So what does this all mean and why does it matter?

Well, it's all about understanding your customers and knowing what your customers want. Many restaurants tend to concentrate on making their beef pho the greatest pho in town, and serve chicken and vegan pho only as an afterthought. Some even use beef or chicken broth and use vegetable toppings, and call it their vegan pho. If you really understand the information from this poll correctly and apply it successfully, then more profits can be had by making the "right" pho to serve the "right" customers. If you're a pho restaurant or about to open one yourself, this is important stuff. A restaurant must serve what its customers want or create something customers love, and for those who know how to use this information, it could be the difference between serving a full house all the time and having an empty dining room on a regular basis.

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