Digital Dads: Looming Opportunity For Marketers In 2011

When James Brown sang, “It’s a Man’s World,” he probably wasn’t thinking about household purchasing decisions. Spurred by the recession, the modern man has come to take on more household responsibilities than his father and grandfather before him.

I can personally attest to the fact that dads are now key decision-makers at home and, as Yahoo!’s new “Digital Dads” study reveals, dads are looking for guidance from marketers who have an opportunity to tap this loyal audience.

Mr. mum

Photo: Screenshot/Mr. mum

The “he-cession” has seen heavy job losses in male-dominated industries and more than doubled the number of stay-at-home dads. In fact, seven in 10 men have had the recession impact himself, his brother, or his neighbour with issues ranging from job loss to home foreclosure.As a result of this shift, dads are newer to the market and marketers can play a large role in shaping their perceptions and helping them become pilots or co-pilots in the role of CHO — Chief Household Officer.

Many of these dads, new to their role in the home, can be reached online. According to comScore, there are now approximately 27 million of these digital dads in the U.S – a significant demographic with large purchasing power – on which marketers should focus their attention on the dad demographic. 

Yahoo!’s study notes that many of these dads list a household activity as their “primary responsibility”: 59% for paying home bills, 51% are responsible for grocery shopping, 41% for the laundry, 40% for the house cleaning, and 39% for the cooking.

This study dispel myths that men aren’t involved in running the household by demonstrating where they are more actively involved in the household tasks and purchasing decisions.

Yahoo!’s “Digital Dads” study finds that existing advertising for traditional household goods, both on and offline, does not always resonates with men. Yahoo!’s study shows that only 17% of dads feel that child/baby brands speak to them, while 57% feel they are ignored by them.

Similarly, only 29% feel apparel brands speak to them, while 66% feel they are ignored by them. One of the key factors in closing this gap is the one of the ads. Marketing messages should reflect male purchasing habits, including the fact that men are more likely to buy a product based on brand recognition, spend spontaneously, and make decisions with their heart versus their wallet.

The core differences between how men and women shop highlight the fact dads behind the shopping cart will be good for marketers’ bottom lines. Not only do men and women shop differently, but men are more swayed by online research and, dads specifically, tend to spread the word when they come across a great new product or service. Dads are also more likely to take notice of online advertising.

The simple fact is, dads are paying attention to how marketers are speaking to them, but marketers are not paying attention to dads missing out on a great consumer segment. 

Seeing that dads are leveraging the online space for many of these purchases, marketers need to take advantage of the needs of today’s digital dads to customise online advertising and speak to dads using creativity and insight.

Both the tone and content in online ads should be tailored to be relatable to men and resonate with their needs. This doesn’t mean that we have to neglect the traditional mum segment; but with the online tools available, marketers are now able to speak to both men and women in a way that impacts them on a personal level.

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