Dads are taking a more active role in the early years of their child’s development, including purchase decisions. As I wrote in “I am Dad, Hear Me Roar,”today’s dads, led by Gen X dads, are taking on more household duties and 40% see themselves as equally sharing parenting responsibilities with Mom.
Brands that wish to reach this emerging market segment must first understand the first-time Dad and develop products and marketing strategies that appeal to him.
Contrary to pop culture, first-time dads demand respect as fathers and reject portrayals of the “inept dad.” Quoted in a New York Times piece, dad blogger Doug French comments, “Dads are seen as heroes as long as their kids don’t drown in the swimming pool.”
Boot Camp for New Dads, with locations in 43 states, has pioneered respectful treatment of first-time dads in workshops designed to help them learn to care for their newborn child:
“We respect the desire of virtually every new father to be there for his child, no matter his circumstances. We believe every father should have the opportunity to do his best in the form of the support he needs to overcome the challenges he faces. Every child deserves this as well…. Men respond to a challenge from other men as well as to the guidance of those with experience, which is what new fathers get in Boot Camp’s father-to-father workshops.”
Just as dads hate to be thought of as inept, they don’t want to be considered “Mom-lite,” either. They have their own dad style.
One differentiating factor is that first-time dads are less likely to take each parenting decision as critically serious as first-time moms. As a good-natured example of this, dad bloggers Charlie Capen and Andy Herald shared, “Hypo-mom-dria (the Hypochondria of Mothers),” a diagram showing what a mom sees vs. what she supposedly thinks. Similarly, I recently witnessed a first-time dad tell his wife, “Just let the baby cry.” To which she replied in horror, “You can’t just let him cry!”
Tailoring to dads starts with name and brand positioning. For example, Boot Camp for New Dads wisely took advice that the organization's original name "Bootee Camp" was too cutesy, not masculine enough, and found to have an unintended meaning.
Happyfamily’s baby food brand also shows an understanding of the different parenting styles of moms vs. dads. Dads often have their own unique approach to mealtime, as seen in the video “Dad Tricks Daughter into Eating Vegetables.” The brand enlisted dad blogger Jim Lin to create a video featuring improv actors and break dancing:
Brands need to take the time to understand first-time dads as their own market segment. He’s not Mr. Mom. He’s not a bumbling idiot. He has his own style, motivations and product needs. He’s a Dad.