Are Dads a New Market Opportunity?

Dads more involved in decision making I was reading an article about the identity of the average Italian the other day. She sounded like the average shopper, the person to whom advertising and marketing  — especially in the consumer good industry — is addressing its calls to action.

As I talk with young couples, I also learn about arrangements where dad works from or is at home with the children, while mom goes to the office and travels more.

Many of my friends have made these kinds of arrangements. Research also suggests dads are spending more time at home and playing an increased role in family life.

In a poll conducted by Yahoo! last October, and reported by eMarketer, found that more fathers are in product decision-making situations more often for a number of categories. While there are plenty of ads that cater to men only — and we just saw several air during the Super Bowl — few speak to dads.

From the poll, 66% of dads felt ignored by apparel advertising, yet 57% of dads claimed they are the primary decision-maker and an additional 37% shared decision-making in the category. With child and baby care, 57% of dads felt alienated by ads, yet 80% were either primary or shared decision-makers.

And as eMarketer reports, dad research products and services online. According to a June 2010 Kelton Research study for Procter & Gamble, the top three topics dads researched online were technology (60%), food or cooking (55%) and how to build, repair or care for things in the home (53%).

Dads are digital

In fact, the consumer research I have relied on when working with large CPGs supports that dads are digital– they go online, read reviews, and search retail sites as much if not more than their spouses. However, according to the Yahoo! study, dads feel online ads do not speak to them.

They are starting to speak to each other more. My friend CC Chapman started a site called Digital Dads a couple of years ago. The site takes a unique look at manhood and fatherhood from a male-centric perspective.

Their features encompass: Humor, sports, cooking, fashion, parenting, coaching, sex, and many other interests central to being a man and father in today's society. As CC told me in an email exchange, they've seen traffic more than double in the last year and the level of engagement with viewers and readers is going up as well as more writers create content around a variety of different topics.

Sharing leads to better relationships

Maybe you have missed it, I have seen more Twitter bios listing "dad", comparatively speaking. And in case you were wondering, 45% of the Twitter population in the US is male.

The P&G/Kelton survey highlighted that nearly half (48%) of married dads report a fulfilled feeling from learning how to do new things around the house, such as cook or do home repairs. And, about one in three fathers would be interested to learn more about advanced home renovation (35%), basic home repair (33%) or landscaping and gardening (33%).

Dads also admit they'd like some assistance with parenting tasks, such as shopping for school clothes or supplies (41%), talking to their child about important issues (39%) or planning family outings or trips (37%).

Man of the house


We often talk about organizations needing to become publishers. One organization has been doing it for a while. Man of the House is their latest publication, which is designed to offer advice to family men and inform them about its products.

The publication tackles topics that range from health and sex life, to technology, home repairs and safety, as well as fatherhood. It's a commitment and potentially a gamble on an under-served slice of the population. Will it pay off?

In a recent interview, company representatives stated that they were pleased with the results so far — from zero to a half-million monthly unique visitors in the June-December 2010 time frame. As Andrew Martin reports, by comparison,, a site with similar content, although targeted at guys overall, and not just dads, had 5.5 million unique visitors in December (comScore.)

Bolder look for the bold move

I would make Man of the House bolder — punching up and reorganizing the information and graphics above the fold. The colors as well. There is too much information competing for attention there. Choose for the reader, then let visitors choose with you as time goes on.

Think like a publisher — it's about what you leave out as much as what you put in. Pick three to five stories and rotate them with eye catching photographs and sharper headlines. Give them a reason to come back by changing one feature regularly.

Support the site with a strong editorial imprint below the fold. What's the emotional appeal, how do you catch the eye, and how do you keep it there? It's both heads, and shoulders, if you forgive the pun.

Procter & Gamble was one of the pioneers in word-of-mouth marketing. The company created one of the first radio soap operas to market its products, which it then took to television with As the World Turns. Will their new publication pay off?

Your take: are dads a new (unexplored) market opportunity?


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0 responses to “Are Dads a New Market Opportunity?”

  1. This is a very valid point and a worthwhile article for Marketers/Brands to take note. But, and it is a critical but, I truly believe that many men, due to ego related issues, make claims to more decision making power than they actually have. Be sure to keep this in mind as you allocate marketing budgets. The beauty of social media is that it allows you, in and engaging open environment, to explore these relationships and the Mom/Dad – Male/Female decision making dynamic. Something I have been championing for the past few months.

  2. P.S. I do agree that Dad’s certainly yield influence and do a great deal of research… so should absolutely not be ignored. It’s all about understanding the decision making dynamic and how to best approach, engage and interact.

  3. Valeria: when the ad world tears up the “stupid hubby” creative brief – currently accounting for 89.2% of all television creative today – they’ll be taking the 1st meaningful step to re-vitalizing their waning role.
    Yes, men in general are an under-served market from an advertising perspective. We make a lot of buying decisions (really!), even if we’re not jumping in the car and driving to the store to buy it all.

  4. I remember reading that, at least initially, men were being let go at a higher rate that women with the current economic recession, which meant that many were suddenly promoted to “head of the household”. With that new position came a lot of responsibility, and tremendous buying power to an individual who had to get on -the-job training and ramp up quickly.
    With many of the food retailers I work with, they could see this in their stores daily.
    Smart marketers who frequently study their customers and watch who actually buys their products have witnessed this shift – but, sadly, most have been slow to change in fear of ignoring the all powerful female buyer.
    My husband has been home with our children by choice for years and handles most shopping for our family. I can honestly tell you that the way he prepares and shops couldn’t be any more different from my process. He’s a much smarter shopper than I care to be, does more research, and saves our family a lot of money.
    I hope that retailers are listening, and acting quickly.

  5. What “Note to CMO” said. I live in a small conservative town in central Virginia, yet most of the people home during the day are professional dads working from home so they can take care of the kids (I’m sure Federal gov’t teleworking helps). I’m not a dad, just a guy who can actually operate a washer and cook beyond burning meat over a fire while drinking beer, and we’re all pretty tired of the Homer Simpson/stoopid man caricature in commercials.

  6. All this “moms online”, “moms bloggers”, “mom influentials” that happened in 2009/2010 was going a bit to far.
    Welcome dads online, c’mon boys!!!

  7. Indeed, men buy very differently, sticking to the list, and knowing where the best prices are for food is just the beginning. At super markets I see a lot of men shopping for their families (noting what they have in the cart)…

  8. I stopped watching TV altogether 15 years ago. I get where you’re coming from though on the commercial caricatures. Now we see them on YouTube. Who knows, you might even discover you enjoy cooking beyond the steak with the proper engagement by retailers.

  9. We definitely have different points of view on how we approach the buying process, but they are not as stark as they used to be and dictated more by passion and context than gender.

  10. Well I can’t say I have ever thought much about this, but I must say that you’re right. Especially here in Italy dads aren’t even part of the equation, probably ’cause it’s taken for granted that it’s moms who decide for what concerns kids and the house.
    We keep saying the old, pre-set roles are fading away, but even if “we all know it” – as it usually happens with matters like these – the content isn’t just ready for that.

  11. Pow! Nicely done, Valeria!
    Big opportunity here for someone to put the $$ signs next to this segment. I think of how the identification of purchasing power for women was often talked about but when someone put $$’s on it, suddenly an industry was born. Is the reverse now possible? 😉

  12. I know personally my wife and I decide on things together in our household. Many people do, maybe they dont realize it. After a product is used, whomever used it will a comment and make the long term decision use it or not. Depending who makes the trip to the store will be the consumer who gets focused upon. But then again, their are partners out there that make decisions for others, but its the end user who will make the decision. There are also the people who dont care and will use anything that is repeated over and over again to them.
    I think its better to have a great product then great marketing and advertisements, but that should be assumed since I do not like to be duped or ripped off. New media just allows informed consumers to ask real questions and make comments to brands directly. And men and women both can ask those questions. Hopefully the big companies will not think that they will be able to push the buying folk around.

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