If you’re doing your market research, then you know the traditional family isn’t what it used to be. The shift from the nuclear family to dual breadwinners and single parent families with fewer children are just the beginnings of change, and not just because 70% of moms see themselves as the primary decision maker. Millennials have come into their own, and that includes starting families of their own but Millennial dads don’t resemble the traditional father role. Are you reaching the Millennial dad with your marketing?
Who He Is
The roles for moms and dads were already becoming recognized as merging in 2013 from surveys in 2011, and the number of stay-at-home dads nearly doubled between 1989 and 2012, from 1.1 million to 2 million, which represented about 16% of at-home parents. However, those numbers likely apply mostly to Gen X dads, so here’s some more up to date data on the Millennial dad:
- 9 out of 10 Millennial dads feel the need to be a perfect parent, while only 8 of 10 moms feel the same. Likely an increased willingness to forgive themselves in the face of their changing roles at home and in the workplace.
- 77% say “perfect” means balancing personal time and family time.
- 15% of Millennial dads say that being a “Millennial” dad is about “being there” for their kids.
- According to mothers, 40% say Millennial dads will handle major shopping trips and other errands, and 60% say Millennial dads will handle smaller errands for the basics, compared to 57% of moms that felt 60% of household tasks rested on their own shoulders.
- Statistically, 80% of Millennial dads will handle the shopping (compared to a scant 45% of their fathers), and 50% manage the kids social calendar (compared to 23% of all dads over 35 years of age). Most even handle or share responsibility for the daily routines from healthcare to school drop offs and pickups, bathtime, and more.
- The Millennial dad also embraces other areas traditionally relegated to motherhood, such as baby showers, rebranded and amusingly named “dadchelor party”, a phenomenon which is gaining traction in a way that signals these dads are ready to be much, much more engaged in fatherhood. Similarly, “dad influencers” fill in similarly to mommy-bloggers.
- 47% will turn down promotions and raises that require them to spend less time with their families, and are even willing to quit jobs that they see as having unreasonable expectations regarding familial interactions. (See: Ex-Chicago White Sox player Adam LaRoche)
- Millennial dads spend at least five more hours per week with their kids than the dads of 1995, tripling the amount of time fathers spent with their kids in 1965.
As you can see, the Millennial dad is a different man than the fathers of generations past. Perhaps this is indicative of the Millennial mindset overall, a shift to a focus on experiences over status, not only for themselves, but for their families. As in other areas of their lives, they’re rejecting the norms that don’t align with values they hold and redefining the way they fulfill their obligations and roles. They’re delaying parenthood because they’re making the conscious decision to become fathers, and participating in their families enthusiastically.
How He’s Making Decisions
It should be no surprise that the Millennial dad takes on his share of the decision making seriously. Like all fathers, they have questions, and while consulting their parents for advice isn’t out of the question, 70% of Millennial dads turn to the internet for advice, and 59% of those use their smartphone most often to do it. About 37% turn to social media for advice at least one time daily, while 35% call it extremely helpful. As much as 70% of them use the keywords “tips and tricks” when searching about parenting life hacks, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that baby-related searches on mobile alone have grown 52% YoY. Similarly, baby-related how-to searches on mobile have grown 49% YoY. Millennial dads also strongly prefer video over text for their content, to the tune of 62% for general parenting tips, 59% for baby health, and 46% for pregnancy and baby development.
One of the few ways they differ from other Millennials is some of the things they value in a purchase. While childless Millennials put heavy favoritism on quality over price, 38% of Millennial dads value price first when shopping for themselves. When spending on their kids, their priority is quality again. However, whether for themselves or their families, they continue to expect brands to provide value and solid customer service.
What This Means for Your Marketing
Quite frankly, unless you have a very niche audience, the Millennial dad isn’t a customer you should ignore. For one thing, Millennial parents drive market growth, and experts are quick to point out how CPG brands can gain a lot from making Millennial dads a focus. They’re the largest living generation, and they have a global spending power over $2 trillion. Millennial dads make up 4.5% of the U.S. adult population. The tactics you need to use to target them aren’t different than other Millennials — capturing their micro-moments with a focus on mobile searches, providing content (especially video) that enriches their experience of your brand, personalizing your engagement — so there’s no excuse to not market to them.
The number of brands targeting Millennial dads right now is fairly low. When it comes to online content, 58% say there isn’t enough or is barely enough dad-focused content, while another 69% actively want more content about parenting for dads online. Many times, what is available isn’t mobile friendly, a poor choice when most dads do most of their searches from mobile devices. Your brand has a prime opportunity to earn loyalty from the Millennial dad just by the simple act of meeting his needs in a viable way.
It’s also worth noting that how your brand interacts with Millennial parents now is going to have an influence on the way your brand is perceived by the next generation of customers, Gen Z. To be sure, they’re teens right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a major influence on how parents are spending, and it doesn’t mean that their voices won’t be heard and taken seriously. Take the case of Ana Nielsen, a 14 year old that wrote a letter to the editor to complain about a Financial Times headline that ignored and thus marginalized fathers. Her commentary on gender stereotypes made it to print, and undoubtedly had an influence on the rebranded headline when the article was posted online. That alone says something, but the situation itself also became news. Where do you want customer perception of your brand to come down?
Ask yourself “are you reaching the Millennial dad?” Millennial parents already account for 80% of the four million births annually in the U.S., so the number of Millennial dads is going to grow exponentially. All of which is without considering the increasing purchasing power of the Millennial generation as a whole. Take a look at your market research and audience segmentation, and ensure that you’ve made the Millennial dad a consideration in your plans.