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In Advertising, Are the Mad Men Ignoring Dad?

Family roles have gone through the gender blender, according to a new poll, as generational changes and economic turmoil have caused dads to spend more time at home and play an increased role in family life.

That includes making household purchasing decisions. But Madison Avenue is largely ignoring them. Advertising has not kept pace with the evolution in the roles of fathers, the study found, as marketers continue to cater heavily to moms .

More than half of the dads polled by Yahoo! last year said they had taken an increased role in decision-making over the past year in domestic categories including baby products , toys, household products, clothes and consumer products goods.

But few dads polled in the study felt ads in many consumer goods categories spoke to them, despite frequently being the primary or shared decision-maker. Dads felt ignored by apparel advertising, for instance, even though 57 percent of them claimed they are the primary decision-maker and an additional 37 percent shared decision-making within the category.

With child and baby care, 57 percent of dads felt alienated by ads, yet 80 percent were either primary or shared decision-makers on this front.

There is some suspicion, though, that estimates as to the extent of buying power may be like the size of the fish that got away — exaggerated.  Women surveyed a year earlier for public relations agency Fleishman-Hillard contradicted their male counterparts, saying they were the manager of the family and primarily responsible for various household supplies. Researchers have suggested that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Either way, marketers should ignore the buying power of fathers at their own peril.

“By incorporating information dads can use to make an informed purchase and acknowledging that they have a stake in purchase decisions, savvy marketers can take advantage of this prime opportunity to build brand loyalty with an emerging audience," Yahoo! said.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.