When it comes to examining the beliefs and habits of different demographic groups, brands tend to overlook dads.
All too often, marketers assume that men who are dads simply act the same as men who are not dads, or they create campaigns based on outdated, clichéd notions about fatherhood.
That’s a big mistake. American fathers are much different from the “dear old dad” stereotype. Specifically, today’s dads have distinct purchasing behaviors, beliefs about their roles, and methods for finding information.
So, what do firms need to know about modern dads? We looked at a host of research reports to find out. Check out the key findings below, as well as MDG’s new infographic, 5 Things Every Brand Needs to Know About Marketing to Dads.
1. Dads Do Not Like How They Are Portrayed
Fathers, especially younger ones, do not think that the families they see depicted in the media and in advertisements reflect their own households.
- 74% of U.S. Millennial dads think advertisers and marketers are out of touch with modern family dynamics
Dads are especially unhappy with how marketers depict fatherhood.
- 38% of dads do not believe brands portray their role as a parent accurately
What’s behind this dissatisfaction? In part, fathers don’t like the cliché of the bumbling dad.
- 85% of fathers say they know more than people give them credit for
Dads are also troubled by the disconnect between conventional depictions of masculinity and what they believe actually makes a “real man.”
- Only 7% of men say they relate to depictions of masculinity in media today
- 73% of dads agree that “a real man knows how to express emotional support to his children”
2. Dads See Fatherhood as Important and Rewarding
Whereas fatherhood has often been depicted in the past as an afterthought or burden for men, that’s not at all how most of today’s dads see the role.
- 94% of dads say fatherhood is an extremely or very import part of their identity
- 75% of dads say being a father is their most important job
Modern dads tend to be much more involved in child rearing compared with previous generations.
- Dads spend 7 hours per week, on average, on child care—up from 2.5 hours in 1965
- 61% of dads attended a school meeting in the past year
- 57% of dads volunteered to help out with a special school project or activity in the past year
Dads don’t just believe fatherhood is important, they also find the role to be meaningful and fun.
- 54% of dads say fatherhood is rewarding all of the time
- 46% of dads say fatherhood is enjoyable all of the time
3. Many Dads Don’t Think They Devote Enough Time to Fatherhood
While modern dads see their roles as important and meaningful, many still don’t think they’re as good of a father as they could be.
- 48% of fathers believe they spend too little time with their kids
- 49% of dads wish they could be more involved in their kids’ education
- Only 39% of fathers believe they are doing a very good job raising their children, compared with 51% of mothers
For many dads, this dissatisfaction comes from trying to balance work and fatherhood.
- 63% of working dads said they envy stay-at-home dads
- 49% of dads believe employers put more pressure on fathers than mothers to return to work quickly after the birth or adoption of a new child
The demanding combination of work and fatherhood also makes it difficult for many dads to take part in other activities.
- 45% of full-time working dads say they don’t have enough time to spend with friends or pursue outside interests
4. Dads Make Important—and Different—Purchase Decisions
Fatherhood tends to change many things about a man’s life, including purchasing behavior. Dads often switch brands after becoming a parent and also tend to value brands more.
- 45% of dads say brands play an important role in their life compared with 39% of non-dads
- 41% of dads say they switched brands when they became a parent
Brand-switching by dads tends to happen most in specific verticals, such as food/beverage.
Among Dads Who Switched Brands Upon Becoming a Parent…
- 44% changed food/beverage/grocery brands
- 42% changed household cleaning products
- 36% changed personal care products
- 27% changed financial products
While moms account for more spending, dads are still responsible for a sizeable share of household purchasing—and they tend to buy more when they shop.
- 72% of dads say they have some shopping responsibility for the household
- Dads spend $173 every trip to the grocery store, on average, compared with $149 for moms
5. Digital and Mobile Are Essential for Younger Dads
For today’s dads, the Internet has become an essential resource for finding information about parenting and children’s products.
- 80% of dads visit YouTube to research parenting topics such as assembling children’s products, preparing kid-friendly meals, and helping their children learn
The web and smartphones are especially important to the lives of young fathers.
- 59% of Millennial dads use their smartphones to search for parenting information
- 45% of Millennial dads say online search is a primary resource for parenting information
To find information and advice about parenting, dads turn to a wide range of online sources.
- 39% of Millennial dads visited a parenting website in the past month
- 24% sought advice from other parents on social media
- 23% used a parenting or baby app
- 20% visited a parenting blog
- 9% visited the website of a product manufacturer
So, what should marketers make of today’s dad? In part, that he takes his role as a father very seriously, but also often struggles to balance it with his other obligations. Also, that he’s responsible for many household purchases, brand aware, and digital savvy.
Finally, and most importantly, that he’s a modern man who doesn’t necessarily believe in, or like, traditional, one-dimensional dad stereotypes. Ultimately, if you want to reach him effectively you have to use approaches and messaging that is as nuanced as he is.
To find out more, check out the full infographic, 5 Things Every Brand Needs to Know About Marketing to Dads.
MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top branding firms. MDG’s capabilities include print advertising, direct mail marketing, branding, logo design, creative, media buying and planning, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, digital marketing, website design and development, online video advertising, infographic development, email marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, paid search marketing, and SEO. To learn about the latest trends in advertising and branding, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante