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Marketing to Dads: A Forgotten Demographic?

June 13th, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler

It’s 2019, and marketing to dads looks a little different than it did 20 years ago. But is it different enough? Recent studies show parenting roles are changing. In 2018, 40 percent of households’ primary breadwinner was a woman, according to research from Chase and Refinery29. Alongside this shift, the US is seeing a rise in stay-at-home dads.

A look at the stats and the state of advertising reveals a disconnect, as well as room for brands to improve their outreach to this growing and changing demographic.

Dads by the Numbers

While overall numbers of stay-at-home parents have remained steady since 1989, the number of stay-at-home dads has increased. According to Pew Research Center, the number has grown from four percent in 1989 to seven percent in 2016. Also interesting is the occurrence by generation, with twice as many millennial fathers at home with their children as Gen X fathers.

Another Pew Research study showed that even dads who work outside the home are changing. Working fathers in 2016 reported triple the amount of time spent on child care and more than twice as much on housework as fathers did 50 years ago.

Still Targeting Mom

A quick survey of commercials for baby products, housework-related purchases, and other family-centric items shows moms are still brands’ primary target. But the research shows dads’ share of responsibility in these arenas is growing, and brands need to adjust their messaging.

In a spoof pointing out this disconnect, Saturday Night Live aired a fictional commercial for GE Big Boy home appliances, with actor Jason Momoa doing housework like laundry and dishes with masculine cleaning tools. Obviously over the top, the sketch does make a fair point. How can advertisers better connect with today’s dads?

Marketing to Dads

These brands have gotten the memo and are creating space for changing family dynamics and shifting parenting roles.

  • Tide: practically a classic, the Tide “laundry dad” has been around for years. This commercial finds the dad on weekly laundry duty, extolling Tide for its stain removal prowess on his daughter’s princess dress.
  • American Express: this ad, featured in AdAge, features a work-from-home dad balancing his business and his baby.
  • Pantene: the brand’s “Strong is Beautiful” campaign, featuring football players and their daughters, showed dads can do hair, too.

By acknowledging the reality of modern families, with dads who work from home, do household chores, and take care of kids, they are creating more personal connections. Take a cue from these examples, and then consider whether your messaging needs an update.

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