4 Tips To Supersize Dads' In-Store Spend

Historically, marketers have tried to explicitly tempt moms in-store, as the stereotype has long been that they control the purse strings and make most family purchases. But, with dads taking on more household responsibilities, they are increasingly becoming a higher-value marketing target. Y&R reports a whopping 80% of millennial dads claim primary or shared grocery shopping responsibility. Subsequently, many brands have stepped up their “dadvertising” and — instead of showing him as bumbling and clueless — are messaging to him as a competent parent who plays an active role in his children’s lives. 

Take Extra’s ads, which pull at the heart strings by showing a father making origami birds from his gum wrappers and giving them to his daughter over the course of her childhood. Frosted Flakes shows dad sharing his favorite game – and cereal, of course – with his son. Cheerios goes all out with an on-the-go guy eager to share with others how he balances mealtime, playtime, and work in #HowtoDad. 



With modern dads taking over more shopping responsibilities, what can retailers do to increase his unplanned in-store purchases, particularly when buying for his kids? We recently conducted an extensive qualitative study on dads and impulse buying that unearthed some sizable opportunities. 

Here are four tips, rooted in our findings, to encourage dad to fill his cart.

1. Help dad imagine his kids’ reactions. 

We heard unanimously that dads feel amazing when surprising their kids with an unexpected treat. They feed off of their children’s smiles and excitement. They are proud to not only provide for, but also to occasionally treat, their kids in fun and special ways. Construct campaigns that show dads how their kids will feel when they see what he’s bringing home. Help him daydream about what this item will mean to them, and in turn, to him. Dads especially love sharing a piece of their childhood with their children — did he also have a Matchbox car or eat Lucky Charms when he was growing up? Help him conjure up those nostalgic memories and feel proud about passing them on.

2. Quell fears about spoiling kids.

Our research also showed that, although dads love a surprise, they also want to raise level-headed kids. Many fear that splurging on unexpected gifts — even when small — could lead them to become spoiled and entitled. Assuage these fears by helping him imagine the long-term impact of the item. What kind of shared experiences and memories will come from the purchase? How can this item bolster his child’s educational or personal development? Even when the product is simple, show dad the difference it will make, and he can justify purchasing it for his children without regret. 

3. Celebrate successful parenting. 

Dads often buy treats for their kids to reward their good behavior, and to show that they’re proud of their achievements. Furthermore, recognizing their children’s accomplishments trickles over because they then feel like successful parents. Dad feels even more satisfied with his parenting when his kids are grateful for receiving an unexpected gift, no matter how small. Create opportunities for dad to reward good behavior and help him envision his kids’ gratitude when he does. It could be as simple as creating packaging or displays that say “Great job!” around the end of the school year or “You’re awesome!” at the end of a sports season.

4. Group products together to save dad another trip.

As dads peruse the aisles, they’re quick to relate items to an upcoming or even current need and make a purchase to prevent an additional future trip. This could be warmer weather prompting dad to replace the grilling utensils, or realizing the dog is nearly done with his bone and will soon need a new one. Grouping products together can help retailers reel in dad and sell more products at once. Creatively group items around weather, sports, etc., and tee up images for him to have fun with his family. Group batteries and flashlights for spooky campfire stories, crayons and sketchpads for tic-tac-toe on the subway, or ice cream and toppings for sundae night. 

Want to open dads’ wallets? Start with their hearts. Dad is open to opportunities to treat his family, share meaningful experiences and create long-lasting memories. Ultimately, dads want to feel like successful parents and raise kids who appreciate them. Help them envision themselves, and their kids, in this way and you’ll find a way into his shopping cart.

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