Millennial Dads Are Do-ers, Not Doofuses

Fatherhood is not what it used to be, and I mean that in a good way. Dads have become more invested in their children, both emotionally and physically. This isn’t to say fathers today love their children more than, say, our fathers loved us. This is simply to say that times are changing when it comes to how Millennial dads approach their role. Dads today are changing their behaviors, embracing their responsibilities, and shopping more than ever before, so it’s crucial we connect with them in meaningful ways. Millennial dads are behaving differently than their fathers in three key ways: 

  • View head-of-household as a partnership
  • Deeper level of involvement with their kids
  • Dad-to-dad bonding

Household Partnership

Contrary to advertising from the last few decades, Dad is no longer a doofus when it comes to his role at home. Dad is a do-er. Modern fathers are now playing a more active role in all household duties, from grocery shopping to laundry to taking care of the little ones. Just last week, 95% of dads spent at least some time grocery shopping and, on average, men are not far behind women when it comes to time spent shopping, with men reporting 2.1 hours per week in stores compared with women’s average of 2.5 hours (Iconoculture). 

Tide’s recent commercial, which features a stay-at-home dad doing the laundry, takes dad-as-partner to an unexpected place. The daughter asks him to French-braid her hair, and he asks, “Herring bone or fishtail?” Commercials like these show the evolution of men in the household while others, like Oscar Mayer Selects, miss the mark. Their commercials depict Dad as the classic doofus, incapable of making his own decisions when it comes to fashion and social situations. To top it off, the spot closes with the kids asking him, “Did Mom say we could eat that?” punctuating his lack of authority in the household. 

Deeper Level of Involvement with Their Kids

Gone are the days of watching TV with your children and calling it “quality time.” Millennial dads are looking to get involved in their kids’ lives in new ways, whether it’s teaching them something new, giving them advice, volunteering, or even sharing the music they listened to back in the day. Dove Men+Care has recognized Dad’s new level of involvement in his children’s lives and shows athletes in a completely new role—a role that is off the court and in their homes with their youngsters. One spot shows Jay Bilas, ESPN basketball analyst, prepping his kid for “the big dance” at his high school.

Even if you don’t always see eye to eye with his sports commentary, there is no denying that this advertising is relevant and connects to modern families in an emotional way. Wrigley is another brand that took one of the world’s simplest products and crafted an emotional storyline between a young father and daughter, as the dad creates origami out of gum wrappers and gives them to his daughter as she grows up. It is a simple and endearing example of the modern father’s new level of involvement. 

Dad-to-dad Bonding

While many men certainly bond over fantasy football or strike up conversations about last night’s game, dads are finding other common ground to cover. Daddy Bloggers and other online dad-to-dad blogs, “Dude to Dad,” “One and a Half Men,” and “Why is Daddy Crying?” are just a few of the hilarious compilations of real dad stories, and the dude blogosphere is gaining ground faster than the kids are growing, changing the way both men and women view fatherhood. We’re even seeing this new “community of fathers” come to life in the media. A&E’s “Modern Dads” stars four stay-at-home dads juggling the social expectations and requirements of being modern dads and appears to have quite the following of devoted dad viewers. 

What does this mean to marketers? Not only are Millennial dads influencing household purchase decisions, they are also becoming more social with one another. Whether you are introducing a packaged good in a grocery store, touting a cleaning product in a drug store, or simply advertising a new product, dads have a say in many of the household purchase decisions, especially when it comes to products for their children. Let’s celebrate Dad, applaud and inspire his relationship with his children. Let’s find ways for dads to bond with each other in new and meaningful ways.

Tags: gen y, men
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