ON the brink of becoming a father for the first time, Greg Allen started Daddytypes.com three years ago on a mission to find and share products and information sources that are relevant to men. ‘Back then, I could count on one hand the number of times I felt I could relate to info that was presented to me,’ says Allen about finding his way as a new parent in a world that seemed to only speak to moms. His first few postings quickly attracted other dads who felt ignored by mainstream parenting media platforms, and the blog now plays host to more than 100,000 repeat visitors a month.
In the beginning, Allen and his readers often poked fun at out-of-touch ads aimed at dads. But fodder for this brand of mockery is becoming harder and harder to come by, he says. ‘The idea of including dads in marketing messages visually, or even just by saying ‘parents’ instead of ‘moms,’ is getting out there.’ Allen adds that his site, which initially attracted ads for dad-centered products like masculine diaper bags, now gets buys from brand marketers trying to reach parents in general and include dad in that effort.
But the broader media landscape still has a long way to go with this demo, according to a study that Norwalk, Connecticut-based market research firm Smarty Pants conducted in March. Polling 757 dads ages 18 to 45, and covering off all income levels and ethnicities, Who’s Your Daddy? provides some great insight into the parenting and consumption habits of the new American father.
A full 64% of dads say they spend more time with their kids than their own fathers spent with them. And it makes sense since feeding a family and keeping up with the middle-class Joneses these days takes two incomes and requires that Dad play a much bigger role in the general running and upkeep of the household, says Smarty Pants president Wynne Tyree. But by and large, there’s still a general misguided assumption that consumer purchases of products for the home or for kids are made by women shopping alone or by husbands and wives shopping together.
In fact, the Smarty Pants team found that 68% of dads buy items for their kids independently a few times a month, and 14% do so on a daily basis. A full 16% report being solely responsible for buying groceries, and only 2% of dads say they rarely or never purchase kids products. Interestingly, 40% of dads polled say they are more likely than their spouses to give in to the nag factor.
Technology and media seem to be areas where dads call the shots most often, with 24% of the field claiming to be solely responsible for purchasing electronic and tech devices, and 15% buying their kids’ DVDs, movies and videos.
Clearly, men are out in the market making household purchase decisions, but they may need a little more direction than other consumer groups. According to Tyree, dads report that they often shop from a list their wives make, and sometimes feel lost if they have to stray from it. ‘There’s a huge opportunity here for marketers,’ she says, ‘not to just jump out of Mom’s shopping cart into Dad’s, but to be more holistic in terms of understanding how households function.’