Numbers don’t lie

According to a 2012 study by Parenting Group, publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines and Parenting.com, and Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, statistics show that men are now the primary shoppers in 32 percent of households – more than double the 14 percent rating of two decades ago. That same study, in a Yahoo survey of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64, found more than half now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households, but only 22 to 24 percent feel advertising in packaged-goods categories speaks to them.

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Defy Media investigated tasks of men aged 18 to 49 in 2014. They discovered that 65 percent of men hold the primary responsibility of shopping for several household product categories and 54 percent of married men say they shop for groceries and household supplies more than their spouses.

Phil Lempert has served as a food trends editor for NBC’s “Today Show” since 1991 and is now known as the Supermarket Guru. In a 2015 piece, he noted that according to a new Young & Rubicam study, men now comprise 41 percent of all primary grocery shoppers, but that figure is even higher among dads: 80 percent of millennials and 45 percent among all dads are either the primary or shared grocery shoppers in their families. The study also found that dads are more brand-loyal and less frugal than moms.
These facts alone suggest an invitation to corporate and marketing executives to seriously consider developing a marketing campaign to both parents, without the exclusion of one or the other. The facts are often ignored due to the myths of fatherhood, but the reality speaks of new dynamics.

There is no question parenting has evolved. Dads, as well as moms, have contributed to the new progressive development of today’s modern parents in which roles, like shopping, are shared between parents. This new parenting culture brings up many questions like:

  • Is the relationship between marketing and modern parents changing? How is it possible to not explore or consider dads as valuable customers?
  • How can a marketing department would neglect the obvious?
  • How can a CEO and its board allow all this to be missed, year after year?

Let’s hope that the corporate world soon catches up to modern families who so greatly matter to their bottom line.

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Surprise – a dad could win this mom contest

Stereotypes, media and long-held assumptions might make you believe that more men buy power tools than women – and maybe that’s true.  Maybe it’s not.

But either way, you’re certainly not going to find major home improvement retailers running campaigns which target only men.

It’s bad business.  It alienates customers.  It’s sexist.  It’s wrong.armour

Unfortunately, that’s not the way business works at Armour, which makes various food products, most notably meats.  There, it unveiled the exclusionary Great Moms Sweepstakes, running now through November.

No, it has nothing to do with Mother’s Day, and yes, anyone can enter – which means that a dad could be named a “great mom” and receive $5,000 in free groceries.

It’s hard to fathom just how Armour – founded in 1867 by two men – could create a campaign that ignores fathers contributions in today’s equality-seeking world.  Digital salt is rubbed in the wound when Armour uses its website to try and justify its oddly named contest:

Join us as we honor Great Moms – the everyday unsung heroes who give their all for their family and ask for nothing in return. We are celebrating and surprising deserving moms nationwide all year. Follow along on our website and Facebook Page for news and updates from our events.

To be sure, moms deserve those kind words in entirety – but so do dads.

Imagine you’re a dad who’s just read that text, and you’re thinking about all the work you’ve done to help raise your kids:  diapers changed, stories read, baths given, shopping trips made, youth sports attended, gifts bought, meals cooked, snacks made – and it has all been overlooked.  Your contribution means nothing.  So why should you continue buying its products?  You probably won’t, which is unfortunate.armour2.png

Ignoring dad’s contribution as an equally unsung hero disregards his status as a true, equal parent.

Armour even awkwardly uses photos of men (dads?) on its Facebook page to promote the contest.  And how strange will it look if a dad ends up being its winner?

The entire Armour campaign is a missed opportunity to celebrate parenting – not just moms – because we all know that roles are different in families now, and that they all come in different shapes and sizes.

Marketing to baby must involve dad

hylands1Hyland’s has been making safe and natural homeopathic medicines since 1903, and after a quick look at its latest magazine ad, seems to be rather dad-friendly.  It’s nice to see a dad featured prominently in its ad.

But take a close look and read the copy.  Why doesn’t it speak to dads?

Now glimpse at hylands.com and click on “Calming Tablets,” and you’ll find a similar mom-only reference.

Those are some disappointing dad omissions for an otherwise decent overall marketing approach.  Generally, Hyland’s seems to try to use “parent” references, so these nuggets caught us a little off-guard.

hylands3Hyland’s talks about party invitations here, a symbolic reminder that dads want to be invited to the “party,” too.  They take care of babies and have plenty of choices when it comes to baby care products.  So why should Hyland’s give them a reason to go anywhere else?

Parenting isn’t a mom-only thing, and mom isn’t the lead parent, regardless of what any particular family’s situation may be.  It is the responsibility of both parents to raise a child, and that equality has never been more prevalent than it is today.

The Hyland’s example is an exhortation for any company looking to increase sales:  don’t forget your customers, and they won’t forget you.

Fresh perspective from Baby Brezza

babybrezza1Companies like Similac only wish to target its product to mothers, because unfortunately, it still believes that moms solely handle the reins when it comes to feeding babies.

But then you have different companies like Baby Brezza, who offer a progressive, free-thinking approach to its marketing and advertising.

Check out its latest ad (featured), which uses the inclusive word, “parenting.”

Imagine how different this ad would have looked had it chosen to use the word “mothering” instead of “parenting.”

Even with a photo that only includes mom, by using that complete, all-encompassing term, it makes dads feel like they’re being spoken to – like they count.

Over at babybrezza.com, you’ll find a site that mimics the ad, where uses of parenting abound, just as the testimonials impressively reference non-biased terms such as “families” and “parents.” The videos also include dad feeding baby, and includes a special section “Kitchen Time with Dad.”

It’s no wonder Baby Brezza received awards from Parent Tested Parent Approved and the National Parenting Center.

Keep up the good work, Baby Brezza.

Plum Organics shows why every parent should buy Plum Organics

Marketing is, in a way, a lot like baseball.plumorganics2

One good at-bat can erase a bad one, and in the world of marketing, companies get plenty of turns at the plate. Those at-bats can come in the form of television advertising, display ads, billboards, radio ads, promotions, Internet, social media, and on and on.

In our view from the dadmarketing dugout, we’d like to say “we’ve seen it all,” but we all know that’s not true.

For every mainstay like Jif Peanut Butter – who can’t seem to make any hitting adjustments despite facing different pitchers (customers) which it used to encounter decades ago – we find new players and new attitudes infusing the marketing game.

Those fresh approaches to the game are called game changers, and our latest marketing discovery (right) could be the best magazine advertisement of all-time, but at the risk of hyperbole, let’s at least declare it a solid walk-off homer for the ages.

Let us reintroduce you to Plum Organics, a company who competes in the Baby Division.

For most teams in this group, marketers commonly like to play defense, or at least conservatively at best, by only dialoguing with moms in its messaging. Rather than taking new, inventive approaches to the game, these teams recoil, shy away and almost shrink when it comes to the plausible notion that dads raise children in today’s world. Most of these teams would rather play the game the same way it has always been played, and stick to a formula that it believes is safe.

We wrote about Plum Organics back in January and it wasn’t all favorable. But today, after we encountered its latest magazine display ad, we found it has unveiled a renewed swing with an energetic approach that finally matches its overall fashionable style.plumorganics1

Concerning its website, plumorganics.com, you’ll note that we penned: “Based on its website, the company actually seems fairly admirable. We love its charitable efforts, admire its refreshingly generous use of dads in photos, and dig the story of how Neil Grimmer founded the company.”

In our general assessment of marketing to dads, we’re not looking for total dad inclusion to the point of mom exclusion – only equality in parenting to where no one is left out. Neither gender should be discriminated against. Both parents count.

Plum Organics’s latest ad, where a dad is prominently featured, pulls off a clear message that dads unequivocally are parents, too. Take note that another parent, presumably mom, is also featured in the background holding a child. But in this ad it’s dad who takes the spotlight, and it works. Wonderfully.

In fact, we love everything about this advertising masterpiece: its layout, its font selection, its soft feel, its simplicity, its captivating photo upon which nearly any dad can relate. We embrace it all.

The continuity continues on its website (it always has), as well as robust use of the ever-nifty, super-solid #ParentingUnfiltered hashtag. Why couldn’t Similac use such an inclusionary hashtag? Why can’t Amazon Mom consider a unified name? Why can’t Jif step up to the plate with a new attitude?

Here’s to the marketers of Plum Organics, whose sweet swing instantly put it among the very elite of Major League Marketing, ensuring optimum business operations where it counts, making it attractive to buyers of all shapes and sizes – and genders.

Give it a rest

I feel pretty confident in knowing that if I open a copy of Newsweek, that I’ll be able read about the news. If I pick up TV Guide, it will cover the topic of television. Sports Illustrated, naturally, deals with sports.

What about American Baby magazine? Well, as you might imagine, it discusses babies and parenting. Since most babies aren’t prone to pick up magazines and read them, you would think its primary audience would be parents.

And you would be wrong.

It’s moms.

American Baby magazine, and others like it – Parents, FamilyFun, Parenting, Babytalk – all seem to think that dads don’t count, and don’t exist.

In the November 2014 issue of American Baby magazine, for example, I counted images of 29 moms. And how many dads?

Zero.

Fifty-three pages and not one single dad (note: there were a few male doctors, but no dads).

But the ban on dads doesn’t stop there. It was the tiny little headline (pictured) that makes dads feel useless: “Better rest for you, mom.”americanbabymag2

That also evidences a slight tinge of narcissism. C’mon, don’t dads need rest, too? Don’t dads have a hand in taking care of kids? Just because the baby actually comes forth from a female, doesn’t mean that moms are instantly able to nurture better than dads, or that they must care for them more. Since these magazines believe the falsity that dads are less competent, shouldn’t that be all the more incentive for editors to have some articles scripted specifically toward fathers?

We all know that media has a heavy hand in shaping public perception. If it really wants to be a trustworthy source for news and information, and genuinely speak to all of its readers, then it should live by the adage that parenting involves fathers.

American Baby magazine wants to give mom better rest.

All dad wants is some respect.

Times for a change

I’ve had a lot of ideas over the years.motherlode

Once I pitched a newsletter idea for a sanitation company in a town called White. My original thought was to name it “White Trash.”

Okay, okay, confession: that story and pun was made up.

But even though a pun may fit and might sometimes even seem too good to pass up, it doesn’t make it right.

Consider the New York Times and its Motherlode site. Its goal is “to cover the ways our families affect us, and the ways the news affects our families.”

We love the play on words if it were a moms-only site, and bear with us – we’re not comparing a term like white trash to Motherlode – we’re only using an analogy to make a point. Even its url is listed in web language as http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/.

Note the first word used is parenting, as in moms and dads.

Obviously, families include dads, and with a title like Motherlode, how can it possibly make dads feel welcome, or even make them want to check out the site?

Not surprisingly, the writing you’ll find there is fantastic – very fit to print.

After all, this is the New York Times, otherwise known as media royalty. Everyone in the newspaper world wants to be like the New York Times, winners of a record 114 Pulitzer Prizes. It has been the standard in journalism for 163 years, and of course, it is a wonderful act to follow.

Hardly anyone should ever question what they do because they’re as good as it gets, right?

In that vein, does it not seem like everyone’s giving the Motherlode name – surely a discriminatory one – a free pass, just because it’s the New York Times? As readers, do we even recognize its name’s chauvinistic tone, or have we become immune to the exclusion of dad in its title?

In the last 30 days, I counted just one Motherlode news story directed explicitly at dads and fatherly issues (while the “Deployment Diary” is excellent and referred to dad a lot, it’s not a dad-specific issue). And I only noticed three male writers. So, if “families” is its goal, it’s missing the mark in more ways than title alone.

NBC News, another highly reputable media source, became all the wiser when it suddenly renamed its TODAY Moms to TODAY Parents in June, a far more inclusionary and correct name for the news affecting, well, parents.

As it stands now, the New York Times would rather use the word mother as a generic term for parent, like Kleenex is for facial tissue.

Do you ever ask someone, can you please hand me a Puffs?

In the same way, let’s not let this attitude lead to a society where office forms simply state “mother,” but we have to assume the office wants us to list both the mom’s and dad’s name.

Dads know this oft-forgotten tale all too often.

After all, it was only two generations or so ago that dads were not even allowed in the delivery room. While that practice has changed for the better, let’s be honest, doctors still mostly speak only to moms at child well checks as if they’re the lead parent, making dad to feel like an assistant at best, nonexistent at worst.

Being one of the leaders in journalism means setting an example and acting like it, from top to bottom, side to side, and tiny little bit to Motherlode.