7 Reasons Food Marketers Shouldn't Ignore Millennial Dads

If you work in food marketing, you’ve targeted “mom” more times than you can count. For a long time, this exclusive, sometimes tiresome, focus on mom made sense—moms were doing much more of the cooking and grocery shopping than dads. 

Operative word: were.

It’s 2018 and we live in a world in which 80% of Millennial dads claim primary or shared grocery shopping responsibility in their households (compared to 45% in previous generations), and many are taking on cooking responsibilities as well.

These dads are working with their spouses to fulfill cooking and grocery shopping obligations, and they’re doing so motivated by distinct attitudes and behaviors. 

But despite their spending power and potential, they’re still being ignored. 

Last year, we conducted a primary research study on Millennials who cook and grocery shop, and found that the dads—by far—were the most distinct and surprising group. Far from the fumbling, “incapable dad” trope of the past, Millennial dads are engaged and helpful, approaching cooking and grocery shopping with a desire for quality, healthfulness, inspiration and fun.



So that begs the question: When could speaking to Millennial dads—instead of or in addition to moms—help grow your business? 

Here are seven opportunities we have identified for brand marketers to think about Millennial dads:

1. If you’re a brand facing competition from lower-priced competitors. 

Millennial dads are more willing to pay more for quality than Millennial moms, who are more likely to prioritize price in their grocery purchase decisions. In our research, 40% of Millennial dads claimed “quality” was the most influential factor when deciding between multiple brands vs. only 26% of Millennial moms. The reverse was true for Millennial moms. 

2. If you’re a clean-label brand. 

While the general industry narrative is that mom is the parent most concerned about nutritional quality, when it comes to Millennial parents, our research suggests the opposite: 71% of these involved Millennial dads claimed that they “often” or “always” read ingredient labels before choosing which product to buy, versus only 53% of Millennial moms. 

3. If you’re a brand competing on the store perimeter.

We’ve all heard about Millennials migrating away from the center of the store, and perhaps the Millennial dads who cook and shop are partially to blame for this trend. Millennial dads are more likely than Millennial moms to claim they often or always stick to the edges of the store when shopping (42% vs. 28%), while moms are more likely to say they always walk up and down the aisles (70% vs. 61%).  

4. If you’re a brand that gets significant volume from in-store decision-making.

Millennial dads are more likely to be seeking or open to inspiration in-store than Millennial moms: 47% of Millennial dads claim they always or often look for meal inspiration in-store, vs. only 31% of moms. 

5. If you’re a brand that promotes kitchen creativity and fun.   

These dads don’t just look for inspiration in-store, they carry that desire for creativity and fun to the kitchen: 43% claim “fun” is a benefit of cooking at home, and 46% describe preparing meals as a creative outlet (vs. 25% and 34% respectively for moms). 

6. If you have distribution at non-traditional outlets. 

Millennial dads are much more likely than Millennial moms to shop for groceries at outlets like club and drug stores, while moms are more likely to stick to grocery and mass. 

7. If you want to grow your e-commerce business. 

Dad’s affinity for non-traditional outlets continues to online as well. Dads are more likely than moms to shop for groceries on (27% vs. 12%), retailer websites (26% vs. 12%), and to use grocery delivery services (19% vs. 8%). 

Any of these reasons alone is rationale enough to explore speaking to Millennial dads to grow your business. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a food marketer that does not meet any of these criteria. 

What all of this research reveals is that when it comes to engaging Millennials in food marketing, you cannot forget about dad.

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