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The Modern Dad: An Untapped Audience for Marketers

3 minute read | June 2016

With Father’s Day around the corner, we wondered who the important men were in Americans’ lives. Who is today’s modern dad? Men who are a parent of a child under the age of 18 account for 15% of U.S. adults, and on average, they are five years younger than the average U.S. adult male. According to Nielsen Scarborough, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. dads are Gen Xers (aged 35-54), and they are 20% more likely than the average male to have a college degree. More than 75% of dads are employed full-time, and their household income is higher than men without children. On average, these households have more than $10,000 in additional income.

In addition to working hard, dads today are increasingly taking on responsibilities around the home. According to the 2016 Nielsen Global Home Care Report, North America has the highest percentage of men who are primarily responsible for cleaning the house. One-third of North American respondents (33%) say the male head of household is primarily responsible for buying the cleaning products for the home, 12 percentage points above the global average.

To connect to this increasingly important consumer set, marketers and advertisers need to fully grasp their attitudes and behaviors to know which products to market to them and which mediums will reach them and when. To provide a glimpse into who dads are, Nielsen analyzed various data sources to identify their shopping patterns, their viewing and listening habits and their overall media consumption behavior.

Digital Dads Are Also Media Mavens

Dads are techies, and they like to stay connected. Over the past year, 73% of dads have shopped at an electronic store. Interestingly, when it comes to purchasing electronics, dads are not bound to a particular type of store. During the past 12 months, roughly a third of dads have shopped for electronics at either an online, electronic or discount store. 

While dads are heavy users of technology devices with 96% owning a smartphone and 75% owning a tablet, they also enjoy watching television. On average, dads with children in the home spend more than four hours per day watching TV (live TV, time-shifted viewing and connected devices).  News, Sporting Events, Comedies and General Variety, which includes late night talk shows and reality shows, are the top program genres to reach dads.

Dads are also heavy users of radio. An analysis of Nielsen Audio data from fall 2015 found that on a weekly basis men 18 years and older with children 12 and under in the home spend nearly 14 hours per week listening to the radio. With three-fourths working, it’s not surprising that they prefer to listen during morning drive, Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. – 10 a.m., and nearly 80% of their listening occurs outside of the home.

When it comes to connecting with dads, radio reaches 91% of them weekly. Country is the top format for dads, capturing 12.2% of the average quarter hour (AQH) share. The News/Talk, Pop Contemporary Hits Radio (CHR) and All Sports formats are also popular among men with children in the household, averaging share of national listening 8.5%, 7.5% and 7.3%, respectively. While some may find interesting that Pop CHR does well with dads, the format is especially popular among children and likely indicates their influence on what the entire family listens. Pop CHR is also a top format for potential dads-to-be. According to the 2015 Q4 Total Audience Report, it accounts for a 12.3% share of listening among Millennials looking to start a family, with an average age of 29.5 years old. 

With more American homes having dual incomes, the roles and responsibilities of mothers and fathers have begun to converge. Today, many dads are being more proactive when it comes to supporting the responsibilities of the home and making household purchasing decisions. Whether they’re shopping for the latest tech gadgets or groceries, dads are spending money. And as marketers look to maximize their advertising spend, it’s important for them to begin to look at dads’ unique habits. 

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