News & Views

Opinion / Good Dads are Good Business

by Contagious Contributor
Kasi Bruno, SVP, strategic planning director at Y&R Toronto and the author of Who’s Your Daddy, North America’s largest study on Dads, asks why most brands are ignoring them?

Marketers are obsessed with moms. And for a long time there’s been good reason to be; moms did the grocery shopping, managed the household and the kids. But times have changed. Today, dad is taking on more domestic responsibilities, especially in the kitchen and with his kids. Overall, 45% of North American dads are the primary grocery shopper – that number skyrockets to 80% when we isolate for the Millennial set. And while marketers have been obsessed with wooing mom (who, as it turns out, is cheap and fickle when it comes to brands), dad has quietly built his household influence and spending power. Yet he remains mostly ignored by marketers, and he knows it. We set out to explore the changing landscape of parenthood in ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ North America’s largest study on dads. We discovered that engaging dad is long overdue. Here are three reasons why: 

Hey big spender. Dad isn't into deals

Moms are cheap. When a woman becomes a mom, she becomes frugal. When a man becomes a father? The opposite occurs. His propensity to spend goes up. From groceries, to back to school to family entertainment, dad is way less price conscious than mom, and even other men. Dad is willing to spend more for convenience, innovation and even to avoid looking cheap. While deals are a source of public pride for mom, dad will go so far as to avoid flyers and coupons because he thinks they make him look cheap at the checkout.

Dads marry brands

Mom’s brand loyalty is largely driven by price and value, making her easily tempted by a better deal. Not so for dad, whose loyalty is driven by brand love. Dads think brand names mean better quality and more innovation. And innovation is important to dad, with 64% of dads saying they actively look for products that are new and different (only 51% of men and 48% of moms agree). But while innovative products grab his attention, it’s not just about being leading edge; he’s also a sucker for the past. A sentimental nostalgic at heart, dad trusts brands from his own childhood more than mom, and he’s driven to share those brands and experiences with his own kids.

Death to dopey Dad

Deadbeat dads are no longer guys who send a child support cheque and see their kids on weekends. Today’s deadbeat is the dad who comes home from work, tunes out and turns on the game. For millennial dads especially, ‘dad’ is a badge of honour, a status symbol. From rising paternity leaves to ‘Dadurdays’ with the kids, dad is invested more than ever, yet is left feeling largely ignored and misrepresented (Huggies diaper challenge, anyone?). “Dads aren’t just portrayed as dummies; they’re constantly portrayed as goofy and not serious. I know most dads have a good sense of humour, but it’s hard when everything reinforces that lack of seriousness or sincerity,” says Jake, 26, one of the many dads we spent time with.

Despite this disappointment, dad still yearns for attention from brands. Our research found that dads are open to brands filling the dadhood support void. They trust brands, manufacturers and retailers more than moms. Mom trusts in friends, whereas dad trusts in experts, a group that includes brands. This distinction in influence has significant implications on how we think about engaging dad. It also presents a huge untapped opportunity that brave brands should jump to seize.

The opportunity isn’t about making more ads for dads, nor is it about forgetting about mom. It’s about recognizing that parenthood has evolved, and creating utility and entertainment to reflect this new state. It’s dynamic, fluid and messy. Jennie Moore described the insincerity of parent-directed advertising in her recent piece on imperfection and parenting. What Moore and modern parents are dying for us to know is that the ‘busy-but-perfect’ mom and the ‘idiot’ dad archetypes need to go. Even moms are fed up with marketers ignoring dad.