Mum’s no longer the word as young dads do the shopping
Brands have to target millennial fathers who are now the ones in supermarket aisles
Talking shop: “It’s time to rethink dads. They mean business.” Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times
Happy Father’s Day on Sunday to all you dads out there. As a bonus, soon you too will feature in a new generation of ads where you have chirpy conversations with your male pals about washing powder. There will also be ones where you spritz every kitchen surface with anti-bacterial spray and others where you smile in a satisfied way (that makes you look slightly unhinged) as you dish up a dinner to your beaming family.
And it won’t be an exercise in gender balance box-ticking – marketing chases the money after all – it will be because research shows that men are becoming the influential or even the primary grocery buyers in millennial households. For decades, mum has been the word in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, but that’s set to change.
The 2016 BrandZ Top 100 list published last week fleshed out new trends and gave pointers to marketers; interestingly, it also identified the most valuable brand – Google toppled Apple and took the number one spot – and some surprises – Coca-Cola fell out of the top 10 for the first time. The research compiled by WPP and Millward Brown noted that the way millennials think was affecting all product sectors and specifically younger dads in relation to the FMCG sector.
Source of business
“FMCG marketers, who have traditionally built their brands to appeal to moms, haven’t moved fast enough to prospect dads as a key source of business. It’s time to rethink dads. They mean business,” says Nihar Das, global P&G business leader in the report’s “Dadditude” section.
The trend was most clearly articulated last year in research by Y&R North America. The Who’s Your Daddy? report into the changing roles of modern dads in North America found that a game-changing (in marketing terms) 80 per cent of millennial dads claim primary or shared grocery shopping responsibility, compared with 45 per cent of all dads.
And millennials – usually taken to refer to people born in or after the 1980s – are different when it comes to how they shop. The Y&R research noted that when women became mothers they tended to become more frugal, with 52 per cent of those surveyed saying they tried to buy products on sale compared with 33 per cent of fathers. When they do shop, fathers are a far more lucrative target market: they are twice as likely as mothers to buy the brands they believe are best, regardless of price (28 per cent versus 13 per cent).
Fathers also look for more innovative brands – they do their research online and aren’t too interested in word of mouth – and when they find a brand they like, they tend to be more loyal to it.
The Y&R research also found they were far more involved than their own fathers in the daily running of the household: nearly half (49 per cent) of millennial dads are mainly responsible for planning play dates and other activities with their children outside the home, as opposed to 23 per cent of dads aged 35 and over.
But that’s a North American trend right? Well, it is heading this way at a pace that can’t be ignored, says Das, using metrics based on power, distance and individualism (PDI) which “indicates the resistance that will be experienced by any shift to established hierarchies”.
Countries low in PDI, identified by Das as Canada, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, “are more likely to see similar trends among dads that are already evident in North America”.
And if young men are increasingly the key influencers when it comes to shopping, they need to be targeted in a different way. The BrandZ report gives the example of targeted messaging in our growing multiscreen environment. Research has long shown women tend to multitask – they watch TV while paying bills or catching up on social media – but millennial men, says the report, are “more likely to use the second screen to deepen the experience of the first. This has implications on how we plan multi-platform strategy and also on what content we choose to support across different platforms.”
The 2016 BrandZ report makes a convincing case for the costly perils to marketers who ignore the increasing presence of men in the supermarket aisle – and not as slightly bewildered trolley pushers clutching shopping lists their partners made, but as decision-makers .
But the cynic in me can’t help but note that the Y&R report also included a list of the top 10 brands “Most Desired by Dads”: Apple is number one, followed by UnderArmour, Nike, Netflix, iPad, Lexus, Lego, Levi’s, Kobalt (tools) and Harley-Davidson. No toilet paper, shampoo, yoghurt, nappy or washing powder in sight.