'Moms no longer CEO of home': Brands eye dads

Millennial family with daughter
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There's a new breed of dad in the house, and he's giving marketers a bunch of new opportunities, especially heading up to Father's Day.

With the majority of U.S. households filled with dual income families and the average cost of raising a child reaching $245,000, dads are increasingly taking part of household decisions to share in the responsibilities of raising children, said Michael Rothman, co-founder of millennial dad site Fatherly.

"Men, specifically fathers 25 to 40, are spending more time as consumers around the household," he said. "Moms are no longer the CEOs of the home."

Historically, consumer-goods advertising focused on targeting mothers, but today brands need to retool their campaigns to reach the young father who is also making those purchases, Rothman pointed out. He added while 4.2 million blogs aim at moms, few target fathers, especially dads who embrace the so-called "lean In" concept and want to help their partners raise families and have careers. He said today's modern fathers are responding to marketers who understand that concept.

"Men haven't really been talked to in a way that hasn't been condescending to them, that doesn't reduce their role to some kind of stereotype," he said.

Brands are taking note of this shift in mentality. Toyota has highlighted the father-daughter bond, including through the viral commercial called "My Bold Dad." State Farm's "Never" commercial heartwarmingly chronicles a man's quest to be the eternal bachelor, who then eventually realizes family life is what he wanted all along.

Since 2010, Unilever's Dove+Men Care has focused on targeting young fathers. This year's Father's Day commercial called "First Fatherhood Moments" shows real clips of men as learned they were going to be dads.

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"Millennials are the ones who are becoming the new dads," said Jennifer Bremner, director of marketing for Unilever. "As we think about bringing new users to (our products), the way you think about our communication and their behavior is a bit different. We're sort of adjusting how we reach clients because of that."

Bremner said research showed them that men were more likely to be part of the grocery shopping process today, with more than half of men influencing or choosing what products they are using themselves. Unilever also discovered that when men became fathers it was one of the times in their lives that they re-evaluated how their skin feels.

"Men are more likely than their fathers to be an active participant in the household and in the caregiving for their children," she said.

And, families are very appreciative of dad's larger role. The National Retail Federation estimated that this year, Father's Day spending will reach $12.7 billion. The average person will spend $115.57 on gifts this year, a couple dollars up from last year's amount. Three-quarters of Americans will celebrate the holiday.

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According to digital marketing agency iQuanti, 1.2 million people searched for the term Father's Day last June 2014. While the vast majority were looking for the actual date of the holiday, about half a million people were seeking gifts for dad.

"There really is something in an idea of a site that will remind you what you bought your dad last year, therefore giving you ideas of what you can do this year," iQuanti CEO Vish Sastry Rachakonda joked. "It would really take a lot of thinking out of this."