Across markets, we are seeing a new era of engaged, involved fathers who are more focused on taking an active and emotional role in fatherhood. In the US for example, as part of Pantene Pro-V’s “Strong is Beautiful” campaign, NFL stars face the toughest plays of their life: tackling their daughter’s hair.

The way men view their roles within the family is also shifting. According to Mintel report Marketing to Men US 2014, nearly half of US men aged 18+ said that they are solely responsible for grocery shopping, while nearly a third of dads said that they are solely responsible for emotional support of their household.

Fathers’ roles continue to evolve and more dads are becoming desirous of more balanced roles within their family and life. According to Mintel research, Healthy Lifestyles US 2015, among US fathers with child(ren) under 18 in the household, near half look to maintain a good work-life balance to live a healthy lifestyle, while another 47% are motivated to live a healthy lifestyle to set a good example for their children.

Against this backdrop, baby food companies will stand out if their communication also includes diverse and accurate depictions of fathers represented in a more positive, capable light. This will resonate with mothers as well. According to Marketing to Moms US 2015, four in five mothers say they like ads that show dads who are involved in parenting. However, it’s not only the portrayal of dads that needs revisiting, as the majority of women do not necessarily feel the mothers portrayed in advertisements represent them.

New mothers (of children up to age 5) are significantly more likely than experienced moms to say they like ads that show dads involved in parenting. But new mothers are also more likely to say they see themselves in moms portrayed in ads, suggesting that baby food brands can be a bit more stereotyped in their approach to marketing to moms.

Dads have a point of view on baby food

As dads get more involved in fatherhood, they are likely to become a more influencing force in their household. Fathers tend to be more opinionated than mothers when it comes to feeding their baby/toddler as nearly half advocate a strict feeding routine, ideally with homemade food. In fact, 46% of dads (compared to a third of moms) think that packaged baby/toddler food should only be consumed when away from home.

Dads are also more likely to worry about safety and nutritional quality of packaged baby/toddler food content. As such, they are seeking reassurance. Fathers are candidates for transparency and guidance regarding baby and toddler food. According to Feeding Babies and Toddlers US 2016, 75% of dads think that baby and toddler food labels should list the exact amount of each ingredient. Dads are also looking to government bodies (e.g. the FDA) and brands for babies’ and toddlers’ dietary guidelines.

What we think

Through communication that features nurturing and caring fathers, brands across all CPG sectors are helping to redefine masculinity, resulting in positive reaction from both men and women. As US moms respond positively to ads that show dads who are involved in parenting, baby food brands representing dads in a more capable light will flatter dads as well as appeal to moms. As a result of dads becoming more involved in child rearing, their strong opinions on baby food, including worries related to safety and quality, need to be considered.

Caroline Roux is Research Manager, Food & Drink at Mintel, heading up the global food and drink analyst team based in London and acting as a specialist for the dairy category. She provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to dairy companies, tracking global innovation and consumer trends to assist clients in their growth strategies.

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