He Said, She Said: Helpfulness At Home

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It’s January and in my job helping brands market to you, that means it’s time for experts to announce what the “new” marketing-to-moms trends will be for the new year.

And every year for the past several, the “new” thing has been the same “old” thing: dads. A lot of chatter in the marketing-to-moms space is whether marketers’ efforts are too narrowly focused on moms as opposed to ‘parents.’ There is a rising resistance to mom-centric marketing because of course dads today are more hands-on and involved.

This had led some marketers to ask, “Are dads the new moms?” There are a host of factors leading to this question and the continued debate. For the past three decades, men have experienced an increasing loss of “traditional male territory.” Some people are quick to point out there are more stay-at-home dads now after the Recession. (But still there are 154,000 stay-at-home dads and 5,600,000 stay-at-home moms.)

They’re not their fathers’ fathers. But they’re also not male moms. Overwhelmingly the research points to the fact that marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. And so the bull’s eye stays on you – Mom.

I still marvel when I think about the fact that my husband probably changed (close to) as many diapers as I did with our three kids, and we’ve never seen his father (a father of eight kids and currently 14 grandkids, by the way!) change one.

Now, a new study by Ipsos underscores the fact that while dads are certainly more hands-on today than their fathers were, moms and dads differ in their perception of just how helpful today’s dads are. The study of 8,000 parents showed 56 percent of dads said they take care of their children as much as—if not more than—their partners, while only 27 percent of moms said dads carry equal or more weight in parenting. It’s as if we’re watching the classic “Newlywed Game” he said/she said. So are dads overstating their helpfulness, or are moms not noticing?

And, we know that Dad’s involvement in household chores and childrearing needs doesn’t correlate to his purchase decision-making. Mom still decides what to purchase in most cases on behalf of the family, and when she doesn’t, she’s likely seeking input but ultimately influencing the final purchase.

What about in your household? If you are part of a two-parent home, how helpful do you think your spouse would say he is, as opposed to how helpful you would say he is? Do you see your relationship reflected in the Ipsos data?

 

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