Generational changes and economic turmoil are helping to upend traditional gender roles. Male-dominated industries such as manufacturing and construction were hit particularly hard during the recession, challenging the notion that men are the family breadwinners. Meanwhile, research suggests dads are spending more time at home and playing an increased role in family life.
Half or more of dads polled by Yahoo! Research in October 2010 said they had taken an increased role in decision-making over the past year with regard to a number of categories such as baby products, toys, household products, apparel and CPG. Notably, fathers indexed higher in these categories than men in general; the research suggests that having kids affects the purchases of both moms and dads in similar ways.
Yet advertising has not kept pace with fathers’ new habits, as marketers continue to cater heavily to moms. Few dads in the Yahoo! study felt ads in many consumer goods categories spoke to them, despite being the primary or shared decision-maker. For instance, 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.
Dads are also avid information seekers, and they conduct much of that research online. In the Yahoo! study, review sites and ads were the top two online resources for finding out about products and services. And much of the info dads seek out online is closely related to home life. According to a June 2010 Kelton Research study, 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%).
Of course, people can often overestimate the extent of their own buying power. Women surveyed in 2009 by Fleishman-Hillard contradicted their male counterparts, saying they were the manager of the family and primarily responsible for various household supplies. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Either way, marketers should not ignore the buying power that fathers do possess.
“By incorporating information dads can use to make an informed purchase and acknowledging that they have a stake in purchase decisions, savvy marketers can take advantage of this prime opportunity to build brand loyalty with an emerging audience,” Yahoo! wrote.[Source: "Digital Dads: I'm Not a Subsegment." Conducted jointly with DB5 and Hunter Research by Yahoo! Research. October 2010. Web. 4 Feb. 2011.]