Marketing innovation starts with acknowledging the modern world

Company evolution and innovation is the hallmark of any successful operation, but such progress is muffled when weighed down by a tagline that harkens to a bygone era. While companies create slogans to market their products, many remain convinced that dads haven’t changed, and so the simple solution is to keep the communication the same. dadcooks.jpg

The message never changes.

Therein lies the problem: society has changed and today’s dad is an involved consumer like never before. More importantly, he’s an active parent. With that brings a vocational conviction that stretches beyond serving merely as a breadwinner and secondary parent. Dad is an equal family player and meaningful parent in every way, shape, form and instinct – every bit as mom.

As a result, the consequences of ignoring dad as an equal and competent parent are catching up to the corporate world. While competitors offer new brands that speak to evolving and discriminating purchasers, companies are realizing that they cannot rest on the laurels of past success and generations of loyal customers. Customers are changing, both in terms of age and demographics. It’s clearly a different ballgame now, and a failure to keep up with today’s modern parenting realm means a loss of precious revenue and market share.

There are also unintended negative effects on the matron targets of current corporate campaigns. The harm here is that it places unwanted pressure on mom, who of course is now increasingly found in the workforce. No, she doesn’t want to have to place her stamp of approval on everything. She doesn’t want to be the sole decision-maker, nor does she want to be forced into the habit of thinking that becoming a better mom involves choosing the proper peanut butter.

While the 1950s mom ran the household almost entirely alone as dad provided the monetary support, the world is different now. Today, mom has a balanced counterpart in the parental world. Neither is in the lead or usurps the other.

This person, of course, is dad.

Another consequence of ignoring dad in marketing is not only the degradation of fatherhood, but also motherhood and parenthood. Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms. It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman. It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reach her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids. It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result. Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood – both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services. Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

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How ‘mom panels’ only tell half the story

Everyone keeps telling us the days of traditional gender roles are long gone.

They say men care for and nurture children, just as women work outside the home. Both parents contribute no matter what task needs done, because the lines are blurred and times are different now.

Ask around your circle of family and friends, and chances are those perceived dynamics match the real world. Moms and dads do indeed share responsibilities, but that’s not how the corporate world sees it. There, particularly in the realm of marketing and media, you’ll find a different story where stereotypes are held onto, where there’s a belief that only mom runs the show.chickfila2.jpg

That’s never been more evident than with the Chick-fil-A Moms Panel, a corporate initiative which works to bring moms news and announcements, gather feedback on future programs, and provide exclusive opportunities and gifts.

The program is driven through BSM Media, a marketing and media company that specifically focuses on connecting brands with moms.

The Chick-fil-A Moms Panel is believed to have close to 1,000 moms on this year’s panel. That’s a lot of moms who can help Chick-fil-A learn more about their offerings and the way they address customer service.chickfila3.jpg

The only problem? It’s forgetting half of the parenting equation.

Last year’s industry-first book, “DADLY Dollar$,” revealed several interesting facts about dads. A 2015 qualitative study by consumer insights firm iModerate indicated that dads make impromptu purchases first based on price. But there are other reasons. One reason is that they want to reward their children for good behavior, accomplishments, or even to avoid an in-store meltdown. In addition, they also like to give their families treats, either to celebrate events, reduce home tension, or indulge loved ones. They also do so out of convenience, for the sake of planning, and to anticipate items they might need.chickfila4.jpg

If money issues are often at the root of couples’ arguments, it may not prove who is right or wrong, but it at least proves this: dads have a hand on how money is spent.

Operating a moms-only panel isn’t only about ignoring half of its customers, it’s about losing out on potential revenue and the opportunity to learn how today’s modern families spend money.

Company founder Truett Cathy insisted, “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives…”

Rather than focusing on missed opportunities, we see Chick-fil-A as having a new opportunity to be a part of dads’ lives. In fact, there’s no better way for this family-owned business to remind everyone that families also include dads.

What happens when you dare to think outside the juice box

This past spring we had a spirited social media discussion with a fine, dedicated dad over our mission. Among other things, this dad asked, “Who cares who juice boxes get marketed to?”

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He argued that only a small percentage of dads care, so small that it doesn’t justify considering dads as an ignored group. It was a bit surprising to hear these remarks from a father, so let’s take a moment to address this today.

There is power in marketing that can completely change society as well as societal views. If it were perceived through marketing that, an active and involved dad is “the norm,” it would make sense that a dad’s desire to be a more active and involved parent and shopper would increase.

Since the 1990s, fatherhood has evolved, and today an active and involved dad is, indeed, the norm. This evolution of fatherhood is a direct result of the changing workforce as more and more moms have taken up work outside of the home, more and more dads are cutting their hours or staying home part- or full-time with the kids; thus, moms are becoming primary breadwinners, too. This parental unit demographic desperately wants, and needs, to feel accepted for their decisions. As such, if dads are comfortable in the shopping and buying experience, they will do more of it voluntarily.juicyjuice34.jpg

In today’s modern family, dad is now also in charge of buying groceries, clothes, school supplies, and other products and services the family needs to exist. A dad also needs to see he is a trustworthy purchasing agent for his family. The best way to do this is to involve him in the marketing process and value him as an equal parent as well as a valued customer.

By marketing directly to moms as in, the “mom-tested” mindset, it reinforces an archaic stereotype and subliminally makes a dad feel that the mom is a better/leading parent. It also makes the mom feel as though she shouldn’t have re-entered the workforce, and by her doing so she is less of a mother. This is insulting to moms and dads, but yet it continues.juicyjuice35.jpg

Change is hard, especially if it’s an idea or venture one has never explored before, like marketing to dads. Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake.

Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue and profit for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and consumers.

Our mission here is encourage all of us to change the way we think about, view, and treat dads. It is our hope that we’ll help companies and businesses capitalize on the benefits of marketing products and services to today’s active, involved dads. The case to include dads in advertising goes far beyond monetary gain. Society stands to benefit from a world that acknowledges dads as equal, competent parents. In fact, children, marriages, and the entire parenting community will all reap the rewards of dad inclusion.

Just like the Mr. Mom label, all of this is a big deal when you look at the larger picture. No person should be subject to a label that implies incompetency or reduces his or her value as a person or part of the family. We’ve never heard workforce moms referred to as “Mrs. Dad.” If someone did, we’d also find that degrading to motherhood. One of our recurring messages is that words matter!

Simply put, we’re merely asking others to think outside the juice box.

An open letter to dads – the problem with influencer marketing

Back in the spring – March 7 to be exact – National Cereal Day was celebrated from sea to shining sea.

OK, that’s exaggerating. Our entire nation didn’t honor it. It was largely done so by Twitter users. And it’s not really National Cereal Day, it’s more like #NationalCerealDay.

These aren’t real holidays – they’re hollowdays – they’re empty, there’s not much to them. They’re days often set up by marketers to help sell industries or products, and they’re primarily celebrated only on social media. If your workplace, school, or home isn’t really celebrating and you’re spending more time tweeting about it than actually observing it, then it’s a hollowday.kix9.jpg

Still, they serve a purpose and can be a lot of fun on social media. We sometimes join in the fun ourselves. And while this obscure cereal occasion was celebrated, we noticed a disturbing trend: dads advertising for companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s, companies who have a regular history of ignoring fathers through slogans, general marketing and even on cereal boxes.

So why would dads plug a company that doesn’t place value in them?

Who’s an influencer?

Influencer marketing can be powerful and it certainly has its place. We all know how it works: companies identify individual “influential” people – rather than a certain market – and intentionally use those people by controlling the content of their blog stories, testimonials, social media posts and photos.frostedminiwheats2.jpg

These companies are asking those people to purposely write about a brand in order to exert influence over possible buyers. Along the way those influencers gain income, kickbacks and plenty of attention – that is, adulation in the form of likes/follows. It’s true that all of it can result in an inflated ego, but welcome to the world of influencers.

Is influencing always what it seems?

At the same time, influencer marketing can also offer deceit. It’s common practice for influencers (though, not all) to buy followers that represent bots to make profiles appear more impressive. Most people don’t buy it, but interestingly, a lot of companies overlook it all in the name of numbers.

Some influencers have real followers and they worked hard to gain every one of them. So, it’s easy to see that dad bloggers have sway more than ever before, but with great power comes great responsibility.

If dads want to be recognized as fully competent parents and equal to their parental counterparts in the world of influencing, spending, retail and commerce, know this: they’re contributing to the problem.

Dads can’t be supporting dad-unfriendly companies in the name of freebies, likes, media attention, more followers, or even in the name of fun. That’s called selling out.cheerios.jpg

If you’re a dad helping to promote, say, General Mills, have you thought about what you’re helping to endorse? Some of its brands, for example, continue to ignore and discount you with exclusionary messages and slogans stamped on the front of every box.

So when you plug these companies, you’re offering a stamp of approval to what they do – and that’s wrong.

Self-respect is key

If men truly want to be valued as prime influencers and be treated equally everywhere they go online and in person — schools, doctor offices and even by the children in their own homes — it’s time to speak up and take a stand.quakeroats3.jpg

All of those goodies, swag and likes aren’t worth it if they’re feeding the monster. Those companies who disregard fatherhood will continue to get away with exclusion and won’t value true purchasing and parental power if influencers give in.

Being an influencer carries weight, and if dads really want to influence someone, stand up and speak out. Tell them that not all parents are moms. Tell them that you matter as a parent and a customer. Hollowdays aren’t worth it.

 

Yogurt needs a marketing makeover

Yogurt is no more a feminine product than a bowl of oatmeal is masculine, but try telling that to your mouth – or your mind.

Product positioning has long labeled yogurt as diet food, which attracts a certain kind of customer. And that customer is typically female – one who tends to be concerned with how she looks to others.yoplait.png

Genderizing a product is really nothing new. The Marlboro Man sold cigarettes to men for decades. Hungry Man dinners and Chunky Soup appeal to men, as well. There are also plenty of other pointlessly gendered products that are sure to draw a chuckle.

Much of it is nonsense. Of course, there’s nothing feminine about milk, cream, fruit and sugar blended into one. Executives are merely trying to target their strongest demographic by positioning products around selling points that appeal to women.

So we know how they do it, and we know why they do it, but a larger question remains: why turn away revenue by ignoring those remaining customers?

The NFL remains one of the most successful American ventures around. It enjoys a varied mix of massive fan interest via huge TV ratings, millions of tickets sold, team apparel, fantasy leagues and its own TV network. The list could go on and on. Let’s also not forget that little game played at the end of the season which has become a cultural phenomenon like no other – the Super Bowl. This event has become far more than just a football game. Super Bowl commercials are a spectacle to behold, achieving status as the most valuable piece of TV marketing real estate in the world.

Yet despite the large focus on advertising, there’s no doubting that football is predominantly a man’s game. There has not been a single female player in the history of the NFL, and this male-dominated business appeals heavily to the masculine side of human nature.

But does that mean females can’t enjoy the game? Does that mean that women can’t be involved in the industry elsewhere? Does that mean women and football don’t belong together? Of course not.nfl2.png

Rather than focus 100 percent of its effort on targeting males even further, the NFL has invested millions in marketing campaigns aimed at women.

Female viewership of the NFL grew by 26 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to Athletic Business, which also said that 53 million women in the U.S. watched the 2015 Super Bowl, almost half the total audience of 114 million.

Couldn’t Yoplait do the same with men and dads in their world? Instead, it touts a #MomOn campaign that squarely ignores the contribution of fathers to raising and nurturing children.yoplait2.jpg

Today’s customers demand inclusion, equality and far less stereotyping. Dads are being left out in a really unfortunate way, and promotions like #MomOn aren’t doing anyone favors, because it also unnecessarily heaps all the responsibility on women.

It’s going to take a little more work than having Cam Newton serve as a spokesperson or slapping “Official Yogurt of the NFL” on cups. And we certainly don’t need more genderized gimmicks like Brogurt. Remember what happened to Lady Doritos?

Yogurt need to be reimagined, because today’s modern family has changed and parenting is shared.

The first yogurt who can figure this out stands to reap tremendously in a confused and oversaturated yogurt industry.

Making babywearing important for both parents

Want to discover that babywearing can be comfortable, stylish and – here’s the kicker – easy? Look no further than Lalabu, which seems to be getting a lot of good press lately.

Its original Soothe Shirt, unveiled in 2013, has a built-in nursing bra, two layers of fabric, plus a popular, feminine look. Its most endearing feature is that it’s simply easier than a wrap or harness. Users only have to slide the baby into the kangaroo-inspired pocket, and that’s it. No fuss, no installation, no extra person needed.lalabu1.jpg

Its popularity grew, but there was no mistaking that the look and style was intended for women. So, Lalabu introduced a dad version. We love the extra consideration they’ve given dads which no other company seems to have figured out. The only problem? It wasn’t called a “Soothe Shirt,” but a “Dad Shirt.”

We can’t help but asking: why?

The difference in names implies that dads can’t soothe a child, or it’s not masculine, or whatever. It further underscores the perception that men aren’t nurturers, nor the primary parent.

It would have been so much more appropriate to call them each soothe shirts – just have a women’s version and a men’s version. Right now it’s akin to the NCAA’s treatment of college basketball’s championship. The men’s version is called the “Final Four,” the women’s is “Women’s Final Four.” It’s important to distinguish between the two, but not make one feel lesser than the other.

Lalabu is relatively new, but its impact is notable. It deserves recognition for giving both parents a product that’s functional and purposeful by gender.

How about showing the parenting world you mean business – business to both parents as equals?