eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview

ANALYZING US FATHERS TODAY What’s Overhyped, What’s Overlooked APRIL 2016 Mark Dolliver Contributors: Maria Minsker, Jennifer Pearson Read this on eMarketer for iPad

Transcript of eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview

Page 1: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview

ANALYZING US FATHERS TODAYWhat’s Overhyped, What’s Overlooked

APRIL 2016

Mark Dolliver

Contributors: Maria Minsker, Jennifer Pearson

Read this on eMarketer for iPad

Page 2: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


CONTENTS2 Analyzing US Fathers Today: What’s Overhyped,

What’s Overlooked

3 Fatherhood, Land of Contrasts

3 Sizing Some Father Subgroups

5 How Fathers Feel About Their Role

7 Gauging How Much Fathers Do on the Domestic Front

9 How Fathers Shop When They Do Shop

11 Conclusions

12 eMarketer Interviews

12 Related eMarketer Report

12 Related Links

12 Editorial and Production Contributors


As patterns of motherhood in the US have shifted, so have patterns of fatherhood—with hyperinvolved “new dads”

getting much attention even as fathers who do not live with their kids at all have become common. Some aspects

of father behavior get disproportionate attention, while others are neglected.

■ While 1.9 million single fathers are raising their kids, the number is small compared with the 24.9 million married fathers. And while the number of stay-at-home fathers in two-parent households has risen, it is also small compared with the number who do not live with their kids.

■ Fatherhood is “extremely important” to the identity of 57% of fathers and “very important” to another 37%. However, many fathers feel they do not spend enough time with their kids, which helps explain why work/family balance is problematic for them.

■ Most fathers believe they are doing a good job of parenting. Digital technology has been helpful to them in this role, though they worry about the amount of time their kids spend online.

■ Many fathers believe they do an equal share of the childcare and housework. But amid a consensus that today’s fathers do more on the domestic front than fathers did in the past, a majority of mothers rebut the notion that fathers are equal partners in domestic tasks.

■ Though not doing as much of the household shopping as mothers do, fathers take an active role on that front. Smartphones help power their shopping. There are indications that fathers are less likely than mothers to be avid bargain hunters.

■ Despite some signs of advertisers shifting away from the old “idiot dad” stereotype, fathers still feel that advertising ignores them and the role they now play at home.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report quantifies different kinds of US fathers—married and working, stay-at-home, nonresident and so on. It examines how they feel about fatherhood and probes the gap between how much they believe they do at home and how much mothers think they do. It also assesses their behavior as shoppers, including their reaction to advertising.

Mothers Fathers

% of respondents in each group

Primary Decision-Maker for Family-Related PurchasesAccording to US Millennial Mother vs. Father InternetUsers, Oct 2015

My spouseis3%

We try to share the decision-making evenly27%

I am, definitely70%

My spouse is22%

We try to share the decision-making evenly53%

I am, definitely25%

Note: n=139 fathers; n=529 mothers; ages 20-35 with at least 1 child underage 10Source: Crowdtap, "Meet the (Millennial) Parents," Jan 26, 2016203976 www.eMarketer.com

KEY STAT: Fathers tend to believe they are full partners in purchasing for the household. Mothers beg to differ.

Page 3: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview



Change is afoot in fatherhood as millennials become

the prime parenting generation, even if the change

is not as extensive as today’s “new dad” likes

to imagine.

Underlying shifts in attitude, the hard fact of mothers’ influx into the workforce has altered the daily reality of family life. When a father buys the groceries, it is probably more because he does not want to go without dinner that night than because he has embraced new abstract concepts of gender and fatherhood in the 21st century.

Meanwhile, there is a wider range in the kinds of fathers that are common these days. In the “Leave It to Beaver” era, fathers were mostly present in the household but much less domestically involved than mothers. Now we have many fathers who are highly engaged in childcare and household tasks, but also many who do not live in the same household with their offspring.

Despite such complications, marketers have good cause to figure fathers out. Mothers are a less attractive market than in the past because so many are now low-income singles. Conversely, fathers are a more attractive market than in the past because they are more involved in household purchasing. (One indication of marketers realizing this: Amazon recently renamed its Amazon Mom program—discounts on diapers and whatnot—as Amazon Family.) Thus, it’s worth looking beyond the “new dad” chatter for a more nuanced picture of today’s fathers.


The population of US fathers continues to disperse

from the old norm of a married man who supports

his kids and full-time-housewife spouse. However,

anecdotal attention to the rise of single fathers and

stay-at-home married fathers can give an inflated

impression of how largely they figure in the total

father population.

The number of single fathers raising their kids is nontrivial, at 1.9 million, according to US Census Bureau data for 2015. But that is still just 16% of all single-parent households. And it is an even smaller segment when compared with the 24.9 million fathers in married-parent households. The proportion of kids in father-only households (3.7% of total children) is tiny compared with the proportion in mother-only households (23.1%).

Unmarried mothers loom large in the national consciousness, but less attention goes to the inevitable corollary: unmarried fathers. There are plenty of them. According to a June 2015 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36% of fathers who had a first child in 2000–2009 were not married to the mother. Two-thirds of these fathers were in what the CDC calls “a nonmarital cohabiting union” with the mother. (Households with kids raised by same-sex couples have not been numerous enough for long enough to have generated such data.)

Data on the age at which men typically become fathers is spotty, since the father’s age is often absent from children’s birth certificates. But a January 2016 CDC bulletin put the average age of first-time motherhood at 26.3 as of 2014. Research over the years has shown men are typically older than women when becoming first-time parents, so the average age of first-time fatherhood is now likely to be in the late 20s.

Page 4: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


ABSENT FATHERS VS. VERY PRESENT FATHERS While single fathers raising kids attract attention in the media and pop culture, many more fathers do not live with their children at all. Adding up kids who live in mother-only households and those who live with neither parent, 19.9 million—27% of all kids—do not have a father in residence, according to 2015 Census figures.

millions and % of total households with childrenHousehold Living Arrangements of US Children, 2015

With both parents51.0 (69.2%)

With mother only17.0 (23.1%)

With father only2.8 (3.7%)

With neither parent2.9 (3.9%)

Note: among households with children under 18; excludes children ininstitutional and non-institutional group quarters and those who are thereference person for the survey; numbers may not add up to 100% due toroundingSource: US Census Bureau, "Current Population Survey: 2015 Annual Socialand Economic Supplement (ASEC)"; eMarketer calculations, Nov 6, 2015206778 www.eMarketer.com

At the other end of the spectrum are stay-at-home fathers in two-parent households. Amid broad agreement that the number of such fathers has risen, different definitions yield widely divergent sizes for this population. Using a narrow definition—including a stipulation that the father be married and out of the labor force for at least a year—a June 2015 Census bulletin pegged the figure at 211,000 as of 2014. Defining the cohort more broadly, a 2014 Pew Research Center report (interpreting federal data) put the number at 2 million as of 2012.

Sizing the population of fathers who have chosen this role is more than a matter of just counting heads. Pew’s report said, “Roughly a quarter of these stay-at-home fathers (23%) report that they are home mainly because they cannot find a job.” Another 35% were in the stay-at-home role “due to illness or disability.” Here again, though, different reports offer different perspectives. In a July 2015 Yahoo report (based on polling by Ipsos in May), 70% of stay-at-home fathers said they “are doing it by choice.”

While the recession no doubt pushed up the number of stay-at-home fathers, a shift in attitudes was already at work. “We’ve had recessions before that didn’t have this result,” said Chris Routly, president of the National At-Home Dad Network. He sees “a change in culture that fathers can do this and are expected to be able to do it a lot more, are accepted doing it.”

Resistance to fathers taking on this role sometimes comes from right at home, according to David Iudica, senior director of strategic insights and research at Yahoo. Describing Yahoo’s findings for its report, he said, “The stigma was not coming necessarily from other dads. It was actually coming from their spouses, so there’s definitely a tension there.”

In any event, fathers who leave the workforce long term to raise their kids remain the exception. An April 2015 bulletin from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said 93.7% of married fathers (and 92.8% of total fathers) were in the workforce the previous year.

Meanwhile, fathers in the fully traditional mold—in a first marriage, supporting a stay-at-home mother and kid(s)—are dwindling toward niche status. A December 2015 blog item by Pew, analyzing Census data, said 14% of kids lived in such a household in 2014, vs. 50% in 1960.

1960 2014

% of population

Household Living Arrangements of US Children, 1960 & 2014

Note: children under 18; numbers may not total 100% due to rounding;*includes cohabiting parentsSource: Pew Research Center as cited in company blog, Dec 30, 2015202819 www.eMarketer.com


Single parent26%


Neither parent5%

Cohabitating parents7%

Parents in first marriage, with other work arrangement24%

Parents in firstmarriage, with

other workarrangement


Remarried parents14%

Remarried parents 15%

Parents in first marriage, with stay-at-home mother and workingfather50%

Parents in first marriage, with stay-at-home mother and working father14%

Page 5: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview



Being a parent is at the core of most fathers’ lives.

Feeling is mixed, though, on how this responsibility

affects them, especially as they cope with factors as

varied as work/family balance and kids’ digital usage.

In September–October 2015 polling by Pew, 57% of fathers said being a parent is “extremely important to their overall identity”; another 37% termed it “very important.” And they want to be good at it. In an April 2015 survey for BabyCenter and Google, nine in 10 millennial fathers said it is important to them to be a “perfect dad.”

This does not mean they find the role a constant joy. Millennial fathers, whose kids tend to be quite young, seem to have the toughest time. In the BabyCenter/Google survey, one-third said they feel “overwhelmed.” Things were darker still in a 2014 DDB Life Style Study. The good news: 82% of millennial fathers agreed that “raising a child brings me a lot of happiness.” But 41% said “I do find parenthood a real burden” and 42% said that “If I had to stay home with my kids day after day I would lose my mind.”

Pew’s survey got remarkably positive responses on the question of whether fathers find the role “enjoyable”: 46% said they do so “all of the time” and 45% “most of the time.” Still, 63% find parenthood “stressful” some of the time, in addition to those feeling this way all (9%) or most (15%) of the time.

Stressed though they may be, new fathers are not wasting away. A study led by researchers at Northwestern University found resident fathers gaining an average of 4.4 pounds after first having a kid, according to a July 2015 release from the university. The phrase “dad bod” has entered the fatherhood lexicon amid debate about whether to lose it or flaunt it.

SPENDING TIME While time fathers spend with their kids is not always enjoyable, it is nonetheless a point of pride. In Yahoo’s report, 74% said they spend more time with their kids than their fathers spent with them. In Crowdtap polling in October 2015 among millennial fathers, 45% said they are “more involved, open and hands-on with their kids” than fathers of earlier generations.

Under the circumstances, fathers take umbrage at the notion they are merely filling in for the mother when spending time with their children. This is something Liz Hawks, senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard, has observed from her perspective as head of the firm’s marketing-to-mothers practice. Noting a lot of negative buzz around the word “babysitting” in this context, she described fathers’ feeling about it: “When you’re a father, you’re not babysitting when you’re with your kids. It’s called ‘fathering.’”

Even while spending more time with their kids, 48% of fathers in Pew’s polling said they do not spend enough. In Yahoo’s survey, 44% said the same. Work is an obvious culprit. Though typically discussed as a problem vexing mothers, work/family balance is an issue for fathers, too. Yahoo found 61% of fathers saying it is difficult to balance the two.

That said, fathers are less likely than mothers to report being adversely affected by these conflicts. In a February–March 2015 Harris Poll for CareerBuilder among working parents, 13% of fathers vs. 25% of mothers said the job “has negatively affected their relationships with their children.”

Surveys elicit ambiguous indications about willingness to downshift careers in exchange for more family time. In a 2015 report by the Working Mother Research Institute (based on 2014 polling), 59% of working fathers said they “would choose to work part time if I could still have a meaningful and productive career.” In the BabyCenter/Google survey of millennial fathers, though, just 47% said they would “sacrifice a promotion at work if it meant spending less time with the family.”

Page 6: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


THE DIGITAL ELEMENT One thing today’s fathers (unlike past fathers) must cope with is their kids’ digital usage. They worry about the sheer amount of time kids devote to digital devices. In a YouGov/Huffington Post survey in July 2015, 60% said they feel their kids spend too much at it.

Mothers Fathers

% of respondents in each group

US Mother vs. Father Internet Users Who Feel TheirChildren Spend Too Much Time Using Digital Devices*,July 2015

Note: parents of children under 18; *includes computer, mobile phone, TVand video game consoleSource: YouGov and Huffington Post survey, July 21, 2015206603 www.eMarketer.com







Of course, fathers indulge in ample screen time of their own. While some of that time serves their parental role, most does not, judging by Yahoo’s findings. On average, fathers reported 28% of their online time as “specifically related to their role as a parent.”

It does not brighten the digital-parent mood that children are notorious for damaging parents’ devices. In November 2015 polling for Logitech by Wakefield Research, more than four in 10 fathers had such tales to tell.

% of respondents in each group

Number of Times that US Mother vs. Father Internet Users Have Had Their Mobile Device Damaged by Their Children, Nov 2015

Mothers41% 7% 51%

Fathers36% 9% 55%

Total39% 8% 53%

1-3 times 3+ times Never

Note: n=480 parents of children ages 2-7; numbers may not total 100% dueto roundingSource: Logitech survey conducted by Wakefield Research, Feb 9, 2016206625 www.eMarketer.com

More happily, 51% of fathers in the Yahoo survey said the internet has helped them be more involved with their kids. Sometimes a father is using digital video to share shows that were favorites of his when growing up. In a multicountry survey for Netflix in April–May 2015, 85% said they have introduced or plan to introduce their children to cartoons they watched as kids. This fits in with what Iudica describes as a broader role for fathers: “They’re considered the chief entertainment officer of the family.”

At times, this can mean deploying digital resources to keep kids occupied. And while some feel guilty about this, a majority do not. When an August 2015 Harris Poll for Galxyz asked parents how guilty they feel about using a mobile device as a “babysitter,” 10% of fathers said “very” and 27% “somewhat.” A majority said “not very guilty” (34%) or “not at all guilty” (28%).

PROUD (OF THEMSELVES) PAPAS Despite the challenges, most fathers believe they do a fine job as parents. Thirty-nine percent in Pew’s polling rated their performance “very good” and 48% termed it “good.”

In the BabyCenter/Google survey, 64% of millennial fathers characterized the “perfect dad” as someone who “prioritizes family over self.” And, lo and behold, a nearly identical proportion—63%—said this is how they describe themselves. This is particularly striking since the onset of fatherhood for millennial men often caps an extended adolescence. Mike Rothman, co-founder of online content site Fatherly, said, “Parenthood becomes a really helpful marker in part because it’s the first time where you truly can’t just think of yourself,” which makes it “the ultimate sign that you’ve grown up.”

Even living apart from their children does not necessarily dissuade fathers from giving themselves high marks as parents. In a 2013 study by the CDC among nonresident fathers, 21.3% said they were doing “a very good job” and 32.3% “a good job.”

Page 7: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview



Doing more at home than their own fathers typically

did, many fathers think they are equal partners there.

Many mothers think otherwise.

In observing its key market of parents, Toys “R” Us has seen fathers taking a more active role with their kids. “There’s a stronger emphasis on co-parenting and sharing daily parenting duties, which range from changing diapers and baby-wearing to packing lunches and playtime,” said Rich Lennox, CMO for Toys “R” Us, US.

And before fatherhood descends on them with its full weight, many men aim to do just as much as the mother does in such matters. There is a difference, though, between doing more than their fathers did and doing as much as the mother of their children does, even with the best of intentions. A 2015 report by the Boston College Center for Work & Family described research in which couples nearing first-time parenthood were queried on their thoughts about caring for the kid. Ninety-five percent of men and women alike “agreed that mothers and fathers should equally share the child care responsibility.” Once parenthood commenced, though, mothers spent about 50% more time than fathers on childcare.

Such outcomes do not prevent fathers from imagining they are equal (or more-than-equal) partners at home—a view not shared by their mates. This was glaringly evident in Pew’s September–October 2015 polling among parents who work full time. Fathers said they were doing much more childcare and housework than mothers believed to be the case.

% of respondents in each group

Division of Household Labor According to US Mothersvs. Fathers, by Type, Oct 2015

Managing children's schedules/activitiesMothers

63% 4% 32%

Fathers47% 8% 45%

Taking care of children when they're sickMothers

53% 5% 40%

Fathers41% 6% 53%

Household chores and responsibilitiesMothers

43% 4% 53%

Fathers21% 14% 64%

Mother does more Father does more Share equally

Note: n=531 who work full-time and are married/living with a partner whoalso works full-time; numbers may not add up 100% due to omission of"other" and "don't know/refused" responsesSource: Pew Research Center, "Raising Kids and Running a Household: HowWorking Parents Share the Load" conducted by Princeton Survey ResearchAssociates, Nov 4, 2015201697 www.eMarketer.com

The same phenomenon was captured last year in an Ipsos survey fielded for Facebook. As reported in Adweek, 56% of fathers said they take care of their kids “as much as, if not more than, their partners”; just 27% of mothers agreed.

Fathers are less apt to make such grand assertions when asked about specific tasks rather than about parenting more broadly. In the BabyCenter/Google polling of millennial fathers, 40% did not even claim partial responsibility for their kids’ “morning routine”; 35% were similarly detached from “bathtime routine.”

Reviewing research on division of domestic labor as treated in academic journals and elsewhere, a November 2015 “Upshot” analysis in The New York Times (headlined “Men Do More at Home, But Not as Much as They Think”) supported mothers’ view of who does what. The article noted that time-use diaries showed mothers doing considerably more childcare and housework than fathers. Summarizing research by one sociologist who has compared parents now and in the middle of the last century, it said, “Fathers have greatly increased their time, but still do not do as much as mothers.”

Page 8: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


If a father spends less time out and about with his kids than the mother does—say, at a playground—it is sometimes due less to his own inclination than to that of another constituency: mothers of other children. Routly has experienced such pushback from mothers when caring for his kids. “I ended up in a situation in my community where I go to a playground, and there was a pretty clear line between the moms who were happy that I was there and wanted to welcome me and the moms who thought I had no place in their sphere,” he said.

DIVIDING UP SHOPPING DUTIES Paralleling their view of themselves as full partners in childcare, many fathers believe they are at least equal partners in shopping for the household. In the BabyCenter/Google survey of millennial fathers, majorities said they have a primary or equal role in deciding on purchases in categories as varied as consumer electronic and groceries.

% of respondents

Primary Decision-Maker for Product PurchasesAccording to US Millennial Father Internet Users, by Category, April 2015

Consumer electronics59% 32% 9%

Financial services49% 37% 13%

Food/beverages/groceries18% 55% 27%

Personal care17% 55% 28%

Household cleansers and laundry detergent15% 37% 48%

Baby/child's personal care/OTC13% 49% 39%

Baby/child's products and gear11% 50% 39%

Baby/child's apparel, accessories, shoes9% 40% 51%

Me Equal My partner

Note: ages 18-34 who are expectant fathers or have a child under age 5;numbers may not add up to 100% due to roundingSource: BabyCenter and Google, "Millennial Dads: Equal Partners inParenting," June 12, 2015191239 www.eMarketer.com

As with childcare, divergence between fathers’ and mothers’ perceptions is sharp. While more than three-quarters of fathers in Crowdtap’s polling of millennials said they are chief or equal decision-makers for family-related purchases, just three in 10 mothers agreed.

Mothers Fathers

% of respondents in each group

Primary Decision-Maker for Family-Related PurchasesAccording to US Millennial Mother vs. Father InternetUsers, Oct 2015

My spouseis3%

We try to share the decision-making evenly27%

I am, definitely70%

My spouse is22%

We try to share the decision-making evenly53%

I am, definitely25%

Note: n=139 fathers; n=529 mothers; ages 20-35 with at least 1 child underage 10Source: Crowdtap, "Meet the (Millennial) Parents," Jan 26, 2016203976 www.eMarketer.com

One telltale sign that mothers’ perceptions are the more accurate emerges when one looks at categories in which millennial parents report making online purchases, as Crowdtap did. Ten percent of fathers said they buy toys online, vs. 76% of mothers; 8% of fathers buy “household items (cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.),” vs. 38% of mothers; and 4% of fathers vs. 23% of mothers buy “big household items (i.e., furniture).” Though excluding offline purchases, such numbers give reason to doubt that fathers are equal partners in overall buying for the household.

Page 9: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview



While there is debate about just how much household

shopping fathers handle, there is little doubt they do

more than fathers of past generations.

Young men these days typically accumulate years as shoppers before becoming fathers. Median age of first marriage for men stood at 29.2 in 2015, according to Census data. Thus, the days are gone when a young man would go from a household in which his mother did the shopping to one in which his wife did.

“Male grocery shoppers, especially dads, are shopping more and having more impact on grocery shopping behaviors than ever before as a result of a shift in generational and economic factors,” said Acosta Sales & Marketing in its fall 2015 “The Why Behind the Buy” report.

A Packaged Facts report released in July 2015 also depicts fathers as a force in grocery shopping, noting that “being a parent is a key driver in their likelihood to grocery shop.” Millennial fathers are more likely than shoppers in general to buy groceries four or more times per week, and it is more than a matter of dashing in to grab a few items: “Notably, these dads aren’t just making the quick shopping trips as they overindex in shopping for more than an hour.”

Accustomed to using digitals tools elsewhere in their lives, millennial fathers naturally employ them for shopping. In Crowdtap’s polling, 48% said they shop online at least weekly. As for grocery shopping, 48% of fathers in Acosta’s polling said they are “comfortable using digital/online tools.”

Smartphones are a big part of this. A June 2015 Retale survey found about half of its millennial fathers used smartphones to check product reviews, compare prices and so on.

% of respondents in each group

Shopping Activities Conducted via Smartphone According to US Millennial Mothers vs. Fathers, June 2015


Checking product reviews

Comparing prices

Finding nearby store locations

Checking store hours

Searching for coupons or deals

Researching products

Accessing saved coupons

Creating shopping lists










Searching for coupons or deals

Accessing saved coupons

Comparing prices

Checking store hours

Creating shopping lists

Finding nearby store locations

Researching products

Checking product reviews









Note: ages 18-34Source: Retale as cited in press release, June 16, 2015193237 www.eMarketer.com

Fathers also use social media to interact with brands. Toys “R” Us’ Lennox said his company’s social media following “is nearly equal between females and males.”

FATHERS AS BARGAIN HUNTERS, OR NOT As the Retale chart shows, fathers are less likely than mothers to use their smartphones for finding coupons and deals. This dovetails with research showing fathers less keen on seeking bargains in general. Elsewhere in Retale’s polling, fathers were barely half as likely as mothers (22% vs. 40%) to say they “never shop without a deal.” Packaged Facts found millennial fathers spending more per item than mothers, and drew this conclusion: “The implication is that millennial dads are likely seeking out quality over a good deal.”

A June 2015 Y&R report on fathers in North America also pursued this theme. Among its conclusions: “Dads are considerably less frugal than moms, with a third (33%) of dads trying to buy products on sale, vs. 52% of moms.” It said 59% of fathers (vs. 37% of mothers) are reluctant to use coupons because they think it “makes them look cheap.”

None of this means fathers spend willy-nilly. When Crowdtap asked millennial fathers to identify traits that show a brand “gets” them, “value for the money” garnered the most mentions (cited by 65%). And when fathers make an impulse purchase, it is less likely to be a splurge than a case of grabbing a deal. In a May 2015 iModerate survey, “price” was the factor atop the list (cited by 51%) when fathers explained their “spur-of-the-moment purchases.”

Page 10: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


HOW FATHERS FEEL ABOUT THE ADS THEY SEE One thing fathers want from brands is respect, and they do not always feel they get it.

Huggies discovered this in 2012 when it provoked ire with a commercial depicting fathers as incompetent diaperers. It then offered a mea culpa and revised the commercial to show fathers in a better light. The incident drew much media attention at the time and may have made advertisers more circumspect since then in how they show fathers.

“I almost think that the industry has matured,” said Rothman. He points to the 2015 Super Bowl as “kind of a watershed moment for dad-vertising,” where a number of commercials “portrayed dads in a much more nuanced light.” National At-Home Dad Network’s Routly has also seen improvement: “One of the last remaining OK stereotypes was the bumbling-father thing, and it’s starting to go away.”

While it is nice not to be depicted as fools, fathers often feel they instead are ignored by advertisers. In Yahoo’s survey, 60% endorsed the statement, “It is about time that advertisers recognized that fathers shop too.” Half of the fathers agreed that “advertising aimed specifically at me is very rare.”

% of respondents in each group

Attitudes Toward Digital Advertising Among USFather vs. Mother Internet Users, May 2015

It is about time that advertisers recognized that fathers shop too60%


I (would) welcome advertising targeted specifically at me53%


Advertising aimed specifically at me is very rare50%


I am more likely to click on an ad aimed specifically at me46%


I pay closer attention to advertising targeted specifically at me45%


I am more likely to purchase a product from a brand whose ad istargeted specifically at me



Fathers Mothers

Source: Yahoo, "The New Face of Fatherhood" conducted by Ipsos, July 8,2015193052 www.eMarketer.com

Fathers (and mothers) would appreciate advertising that gives a more balanced picture of modern parenthood. In polling by YouGov for a March 2016 BabyCenter report, two-thirds of parents agreed that “a brand that realistically reflects parenting today is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.”

If brands evolve away from the “idiot dad” school of advertising, it is partly out of awareness that mothers as well as fathers look askance at it. FleishmanHillard’s Hawks said the caricature of fathers can be “a turnoff” for mothers, who are apt to feel, “Who is that character? That doesn’t look like my lifestyle and my partner.” It is not just a matter of avoiding negative stereotypes. Routly said “moms actually love to see engaged and involved dads” in ads.

Beyond respect, another thing brands can provide is useful information—not just about products, but about questions that arise in parenting. Lennox said his company’s Babies “R” Us brand initiates such contact with fathers-to-be even before their kids are born: “After all, they aren’t feeling and experiencing pregnancy firsthand.” The goal is “to help expectant and new dads feel as confident and educated as possible in the process of preparing for their baby’s arrival.”

Page 11: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview


As Yahoo’s Iudica noted, though, a marketer must be careful to avoid “speaking down to them” when providing fathers with information. “They don’t necessarily want advice, but they do appreciate a bit of wisdom,” he said. So the key is to make it “really organic to a story” that offers a parenting perspective, rather than a “heavy-handed, ‘this is what you need to do’” approach.

One reason for a brand to be solicitous to fathers is that their shopping choices can be up for grabs when they turn into parents. In the BabyCenter/Google polling, more than four in 10 millennial fathers reported changing brands in the food/beverage and household cleanser sectors since having kids.

% of respondents

US Millennial Father Internet Users Who HaveChanged Brands Since Becoming a Father, by ProductCategory, April 2015

Food/beverages/groceries 44%

Household cleansers 42%

Personal care 36%

Financial services 27%

Consumer electronics 24%

Note: ages 18-34 who are expectant fathers or have a child under age 5Source: BabyCenter and Google, "Millennial Dads: Equal Partners inParenting," June 12, 2015191238 www.eMarketer.com

Then again, fathers also exhibit attachment to brands they have used for decades. This was evident in June 2015 YouGov BrandIndex polling in which fathers picked their favorite brands. Half of their top choices—including Band-Aid, Cheerios and M&M’s—were brands whose status as favorites likely dates back to the fathers’ own childhoods.

In any case, if they get their messaging right, brands could find a receptive audience in fathers—precisely because, unlike mothers, they have been largely ignored. As Rothman put it, fathers “tend to be maybe a bit more malleable because they haven’t been saturated with marketing messages.”

Hawks offers a caveat, suggesting that fathers are less valuable than mothers to a brand because they are less inclined to proselytize about it to fellow fathers. “They don’t communicate with each other the same way moms do, particularly about brands and products and services,” she said.

CONCLUSIONS Single and stay-at-home fathers have become more numerous. But they are still far outnumbered by married working fathers—and by fathers who do not live with their children. Likewise, these untraditional fathers are much less common than single and stay-at-home mothers.

Work/family balance is tricky for fathers, who pride themselves on being involved with their children. While spending more time with their kids than fathers used to do, many feel they are not spending enough. In the digital era, managing kids’ device usage is another source of anxiety.

It is an article of faith among many fathers that they are full partners in childcare and housework. However, many mothers do not see the division of domestic labor as equal. Fathers do more than their own fathers did—no surprise, since many mothers work full time. But this does not mean they do as much at home as mothers do, or that they do as much of the shopping.

Still, fathers who often buy groceries are not a novelty. Smartphones help them accomplish their shopping. Though not spendthrifts, fathers seem less vigilant than mothers about finding bargains.

Fathers would like to see more advertising that acknowledges their role in parenting. They do not want to be ignored, let alone treated as incompetent in caring for kids and doing household tasks.

Page 12: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview



Dads Want to See More Ads That Depict Them with Dignity

David Iudica Senior Director, Strategic Insights and Research

Yahoo Interview conducted on March 11, 2016

Fathers Just Looking to Be Included, Not Praised, in Ads

Rich Lennox CMO

Toys “R” Us, US Interview conducted on March 11, 2016

Liz Hawks Senior Vice President, Partner

FleishmanHillard Interview conducted on March 2, 2016

Mike Rothman Co-Founder

Fatherly Interview conducted on March 2, 2016

Chris RoutlyPresident

National At-Home Dad Network Interview conducted on March 2, 2016


US Mothers 2016: Examining the Distinctive Elements of Their Digital Usage


Acosta Sales & Marketing


Boston College Center for Work & Family






Harris Poll

Huffington Post





Northwestern University

Packaged Facts

Pew Research Center


US Census Bureau

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wakefield Research

Working Mother Research Institute





Cliff Annicelli Managing Editor, ReportsMichael Balletti Copy EditorKate Berman Chart EditorJoanne DiCamillo Senior Production ArtistDana Hill Director of ProductionStephanie Meyer Senior Production ArtistKris Oser Deputy Editorial DirectorHeather Price Senior Copy EditorJohn Rambow Executive Editor, ReportsAllie Smith Director of Charts

Page 13: eMarketer April 2016_Hawks Interview

Coverage of a Digital WorldeMarketer data and insights address how consumers spend time and money, and what marketers are doing to reach them in today’s digital world. Get a deeper look at eMarketer coverage, including our reports, benchmarks and forecasts, and charts.

Confidence in the NumbersOur unique approach of analyzing data from multiple research sources provides our customers with the most definitive answers available about the marketplace. Learn why.

Customer StoriesThe world’s top companies across every industry look to eMarketer first for information on digital marketing, media and commerce. Read more about how our clients use eMarketer to make smarter decisions.

Your account team is here to help:Email [email protected] to submit a request for research support, or contact [email protected] or 866-345-3864 to discuss any details related to your account.

The leading research firm for marketing in a digital world.