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Marketing to millennial dads

March 1 2016

Kacha Azema

Have you ever frantically looked for your car keys only to find them in your pocket? Or spent 30 minutes searching for glasses that were perched on your head the whole time?

Just like your “lost” glasses, we’ve found that America’s 14.3 million millennial dads1 are hidden in plain sight. They’re right next to those millennial moms who have already found a place in your marketing strategy! But this distinct group of millennials has unique views about family life, products and purchasing. Here are some meaningful tips for brands looking to engage them.

88 percent of millennial dads feel it’s at least somewhat important to be “the perfect dad”

They want to spend time with their kids

Millennial dads grew up during a time that challenged traditional gender roles, so it’s natural to see them pursue time with their kids. These dads are twice as likely as the previous generation to plan play dates and other activities with their kids outside the home.2 “Millennial dads are more involved in the day-to-day of childcare than any generation before them,” says Julie Michaelson, head of global sales at BabyCenter. BabyCenter also found that 88 percent of millennial dads feel it’s at least somewhat important to be “the perfect dad,” a surprisingly higher percentage than millennial moms!3

What it means
Brands can capitalize on this desire for family time by highlighting experiences that dads and kids can do together. For example, in a recent brand boot camp with Universal Orlando Resorts, we learned that one of the key ways they differentiate from Disney is by highlighting that Universal is where you do things with your kids, while Disney is where you go for your kids. Market to millennial dads with a full-family message and watch how quickly they’re attracted to your brand.

They make lots of family purchases

In the past, surveys have found that women (moms) make most of the purchases for the home. But with almost 8,000 millennial men becoming this new kind of dad every day,4 those findings are quickly changing. 80 percent of millennial dads now claim primary or shared family shopping responsibility, almost twice the percentage of all non-millennial dads.5

What it means
Both moms and dads feel that brands need to engage with millennial dads in ways that honor their involvement in family shopping. In a recent survey, half of millennial parents said they see ads made more for moms than dads, and 83 percent believe ads should appeal more equally.4 Long gone are the days of the ad that shows the bumbling dad screwing everything up, only to be saved by mom effortlessly using Product X. Brands will get the attention of today’s millennial parents by showing family life that accurately reflects their own.

Millennial dads own more devices than any other group of millennials

Millennial dads are highly connected

It might surprise you to learn that ownership of digital devices is higher among millennial dads than all millennials. Two thirds of millennial dads own three or more devices, and 82 percent own a smartphone (compared to 76 percent of non-dads).6 These devices bring the world to their fingertips, and they’re using that instant access to get the parenting info they need right now. Google reports that 59 percent of millennial dads use their smartphone when searching for parenting info and the millennial dad website Fatherly says 75 percent of its traffic is from mobile.3

What it means
Millennial dads need brands that understand the pace and demands of their lifestyle. Google found that over two thirds of millennial dads wish for more online content tailored to them and describe a lot of disappointment with product websites that are hard to read on a smartphone.3 Brands can win with these guys by delivering dad-relevant, mobile-optimized content that helps a dad…well…be a dad!

Quality is more important than price

By now we’ve all learned that many of the millennial moms in our marketing strategy are cost-conscious and looking for a deal. But their partners-in-crime couldn’t be more different. Surveys show that millennial dads are 300 percent more likely to say that using coupons make them feel cheap. 5 Along with that nugget, a Y&R study also found that millennial dads are far more likely to buy on impulse. Sooooo…impulsive big spenders (wink, wink)…a marketer’s dream!

What it means
Brands can speak to millennial dads by tapping into their innate desire to care for their family. “Men of today are prioritizing care in their lives, from their role as a caregiver, to how they are caring for themselves,” says Jennifer Bremner, director of marketing for Dove Men+Care.

Google data on millennial dad shopping habits shows they spend a lot of time researching and analyzing product decisions3. They want to provide the best for their family and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks for that peace of mind. Your brand will rise to the top of a millennial dad’s consideration set as you show him the detail and quality of your product.

What have we learned?

First and foremost, your millennial dad strategy must complement your millennial mom strategy. They both want the same thing—what’s best for their family—but they go about it in different ways. Remember that dad is deeply connected, highly invested, and strives to be “the perfect dad.” All he needs is a helping hand.