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How Dads Shop Differently than Moms – and Why it Matters

shutterstock_12164182 (1)Women, and more specifically moms, have long been the core target for most CPG marketers – and for good reason given the sheer size, buying power, and influence of the segment. But over the last few years there has been a notable trend of men, and particularly dads, taking a more active role in shopping for the family.

We expect this trend to continue, and for dads to become an increasingly important segment for marketers to understand – particularly given how little attention has been paid to them in the past. To that end, BrandSpark conducted a detailed analysis of the BrandSpark Canadian Shopper Study to get insights into how dads shop differently than moms (focusing on 30 to 49 year olds). It reveals that not only is the dad segment large, but that dads shop in a way that should be very attractive to CPG marketers.


While moms count pennies, dads open their wallets

 Amongst people that don’t have kids, 40% of women and 35% men completely agree that they are always looking for ways to reduce spending on everyday items – a relatively small difference between the sexes. But once they become parents, men and women change their spending habits in opposite ways – women increase their likelihood to reduce spending (up to 47%), while men actually decrease theirs (down to 29%). That is a substantial gap that indicates while many Moms start counting pennies, the Dads are opening their wallets.

For most CPG brands, shoppers constantly looking to reduce their spending are not a particularly attractive target – the type of people that can likely only be drawn in with a coupon, will quickly switch brands if another is on sale, and will likely readily switch to a private label option if it is available. In turn, if you take these cost-cutters out of the consumer target group, what you’ll find is that there are 4 Dads for every 5 Moms. Sure, this means the Moms segment is still bigger – but the Dads are definitely a large enough group to be paying close attention to.

Dads typically don’t write their own shopping lists – and are more likely to buy on impulse

ShoppingListGraph2If you believe that Women are more likely than men to know exactly what they are looking for when they are out shopping, you are probably on to something. For starters, women are about 10% more likely to use a shopping list than a man is. For Dads in particular, even if they have a list they probably didn’t make it themselves – only 29% of them say they typically make the shopping list in their household, which compares to 84% for Moms (and 54% for other Men). And of these lists, less than half will have specific brands identified on it.

So it is fair to say that many Dads enter the store with only a vague idea of what they are looking for. Given this, it is not surprising report to be more likely to buy on “impulse” in most categories – making the point of purchase a particularly important place to win over the “Dad” shopper.

Men are more likely to try new products – and dads rely more on brands they trust

If you believe that Men are more likely to be drawn to shiny new things, you are again probably onto something. Men are more likely than women to be drawn to say things like “I want to be the first person to try new products”, and be interested in products that advertise “new and improved”. And they don’t just say it – our research indicates that in many categories, men are much more likely to try new products entered in the Best New Product Awards than women are.

In addition, our research shows that that having kids significantly impacts how men perceive and react to established brands – but doesn’t have the same effect on women.

For example, about 67% of women say that I trust brands more that have been around a long time – and whether or not they have kids has no discernible impact. Men without kids value the longevity of brands less (61%) then women, while Men with kids value it more (72%). Related, in the food category Dads are far more likely than Moms to say that a brand I recall from childhood – indicating that once they have kids, many men go back to a time when they were kids when making purchase decisions. So looking for a way to connect your advertising with Dads? Play up the nostalgia of the brand and you might just draw them in.

Put that all together, and you end up with Dads as a large segment of shoppers who spends their money rather freely, often don’t know exactly what they are looking for, and are particularly keen on innovative new products from brands that they trust. Sound like a segment worth focusing more on the next time you launch a new product?

Denis Hancock is Director of Consumer Insights at BrandSpark International. For over 10 years, Denis has helped clients optimize their brand health strategies and identify profitable growth opportunities. He can be reached at:
Mar 28, 2014 | By Denis Hancock | Tags:

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Thanks for joining Keeping Up with The Shopper, we are excited to share our industry insights with you.

Concerns? Contact us at 647-727-4575 or email us at

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