1. New age fathers: How can brands engage the millennial dads?

New age fathers: How can brands engage the millennial dads?

The idea is to refrain from hard-selling and finally, creating a community of like-minded dads — a cohort which is fortunately and evidently quite keen to participate and engage.

Published: August 8, 2017 2:25 AM
The oft-neglected category of new-age fathers is finally catching marketers’ attention. How can brands engage the millennial dads?

Increasingly, we are seeing the concept of millennial dads in India being at par with global trends. Dads who want to be, and are involved in decisions related to raising their children; more than their predecessors ever were. This trend is on an upswing, more so because of an attitudinal change rather than any societal pressures or norms. It is a conscious choice to be a part of the kid’s childhood and future thereof. This new-age, millennial dad feels responsible and wants his children to become successful as well as ideal citizens of the new world. Millennial dads feel no awkwardness to participate in parenting tasks which were considered to be exclusive to moms until a few years ago.

From packing school lunches to organising birthday parties at home, from immunisation to baking cookies — they have moved beyond the idea of ‘time spent with the kid’. The days of helicopter parenting have, indeed, long been replaced with more inclusive decision-making and informed choices available to parents, today, thanks to internet and the connected world. This is excellent news, not just for moms, but also for marketers! Given these dynamics and because of their increasing participation in family purchases, millennial dads are now the brand new audience that marketers are trying to engage.

Beyond the stereotyped dad

Unlike moms in advertising who have evolved with time, until recent times, dads featured in marketing and advertising have often been relegated to absent or background roles. In rare instances that they are the chief focus of ads, they are usually assigned stereotypical characteristics. All this is now changing. And advertisers, therefore, need to apply the same level of meticulous research and insights to engage with dads in the same manner as they have mastered marketing to moms over the years.

In an age, where content is key to connecting better with customers, it is important to base this content on data-backed insights rather than simply assumed stereotypes. For instance, we know that millennial dads are extremely connected and rely a lot on experiences of online resources when it comes to parenting, just like millennial moms. However, dads are prone to digging deeper, and are not that easily swayed by deals and discounts, for starters. Give them a proven success story, with credible authenticity and they will believe in you. Once you have won their trust, you are in for surprisingly staunch loyalty and an extra premium.

The opportunity here lies in the fact that there is not enough dad-focussed content online currently to satiate their curiosity about parenting and related resources. Better consumer insights will translate to more meaningful, relevant content. Meaningful campaigns can be created if we can bear in mind that fathers don’t just want to share the attention but also want to participate in meaningful and quality activities that help in overall development of the child.

Banking on nostalgia

We have also seen that millennial dads connect strongly with nostalgia. Star Wars is a perfect example here. Both, my seven year-old son and I, are big fans. A couple of years ago, when we started to watch the first episode, I patiently answered all his questions related to the Force, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and what not! Today my son is definitely a bigger fan of the Star Wars universe than I am. Another notable example of using nostalgia power is Paper Boat’s Drinks and Memories campaign. In my opinion, it has been able to solve the biggest problem that the beverage industry in India faces today — securing parents’ approval as gatekeepers.

Marketers, therefore, definitely need to invest in seeking out such connections that help ignite this emotion of nostalgia. New-age dads are also not afraid to confront emotions, going against the stoic-dad that has, by this time, become quite a stereotype. Many brands, globally, have done an excellent job of tapping into emotions. Take for instance, Dove Men+Care’s #RealStrength campaign. The spot effectively showed numerous facets of this cohort, and quite emphatically proved that today’s dads are far more nuanced than what marketers have cared to portray so far.

Last but not the least — brands and marketers must become his best friend in every way possible. This means talking about his personal passions and seeding stories that connect him with his family (remember HDFC Life’s Sar Utha ke Jiyo father-daughter campaign). The idea is to refrain from hard-selling and finally, creating a community of like-minded dads — a cohort which is fortunately and evidently quite keen to participate and engage.

The author Lokesh Kataria is head of marketing, Mattel Toys

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