min read

3 things brands need to know about marketing to today’s dads

by Tim Kenyon , 04.04.2017

My wife and I recently binge-watched “This is Us.”  As a father of two, I was attuned to the portrayal of the dads on this fictional NBC show (for the un-initiated).  Randall, William, and Jack make up an all-star cast of TV dads.  Sure, all three have their flaws, but I’m convinced that some combination of these TV dads is the actual father I’m supposed to be.  Kind and loving like Randall, strong and inspiring like Jack, wise and cool like William.  But all three share a common thread – a willingness to take on a large role in their kids’ and grandkids’ day-to-day lives.

An important message to marketers

There is an important message in the show to marketers about dads (and granddads) like Randall, William, and Jack.  According to research from GfK Consumer Life's global study, fathers averaged across 18 countries are more likely today than in the past to take on household chores like cooking, cleaning, and shopping for groceries.  In addition, as “This is Us” aptly displays, common dad tropes are being replaced by a more dynamic and realistic archetype.

That’s not to say that fathers are the new mothers.  Sure, dads still love to kick back in the man cave with a cold one and hide from folding the laundry (don’t tell my wife).  And in fact, there are recent studies suggesting that attitudes towards more traditional gender roles are making a bit of a comeback – especially in the US.

Recent studies from GfK Consumer Life in the US have similar findings (more to come in a future post).  But modern reality dictates and encourages dads to be more omni-present in chores and their kids’ lives.

So what do marketers need to know about today’s dads?

  1. We like to blaze a trail and create new ways of doing household chores. Especially watch out for us in the kitchen, where we will experiment a bit more than moms.  This domestic innovation isn’t always appreciated, as about half of dads claim they are the best cook in the house, while overwhelmingly kids are much more likely to say that Mom is the best. (pro-tip: kids don’t like sriracha mac and cheese, but they do like ‘regular’ mac and cheese).
  1. We are smarter shoppers with go-to brands, and a pinch of nostalgia. Dads bring a unique perspective to the weekly shopping trip.  We are increasingly deal-oriented, but still tend to be influenced heavily by brands – especially brands that we remember from our childhood.
  1. We put in a lot of research when making a purchase decision (especially for bigger ticket items). Increasingly, dads are likely to consult their on-line and off-line networks before making a decision.  And for all the jokes about men never asking for directions, growing numbers will ask salespeople for information.

The role of fathers on TV, advertising, and in real life is forever changed.  As marketers, we have a responsibility and a business imperative to engage them in a realistic fashion, without patronizing.  Now excuse me while I grab my herb-infused duck breast from the oven, my four-year old is sure to love it this time!

Tim Kenyon is Vice President on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at tim.kenyon@gfk.com.