Mom remains by far the number one decision-maker when buying for home and family; dads are making inroads, but not to the degree many now assume. According to Are Dads the New Black, a new survey by Child’s Play Communications, mom’s evaluation of dad’s contribution often differs dramatically from his own.

Conducted with The NPD group, an independent market research company, the Child’s Play survey queried nearly 2500 moms and dads—approximately 1250 couples—across the US, asking for each one’s view of dad’s decision-making role in 20 different product categories. The survey looked at where dads were “entirely” responsible for a product category, then “primarily” responsible and lastly, where they “shared responsibility equally” with their spouses.

“Based on our immersion in the world of moms, it seemed that some of the claims about dad’s involvement in household purchasing decisions were overstated,” says Child’s Play Communications president Stephanie Azzarone. “Our goal in launching the survey was to separate perception from reality.”

Some highlights:
• Moms remain the major household purchasing decision maker in about 80 percent of families.
• Moms are responsible for the majority of those decisions--about two thirds. This is notable because it contrasts with the long-held belief that moms are responsible for about 80 percent of household purchasing decisions—an indication that dads are getting more involved.
• Dads continue to dominate decision making in what might be considered traditionally “male” categories. 55.3 percent of moms and 62.2 percent of dads said that dad was entirely responsible for buying decisions related to Home Repair and 50 percent of moms and 57.0 percent of dads said dad had sole responsibility for Lawn & Garden. Meanwhile, roughly a third or more said dads handle all decision making for Automobiles (38.4 percent of moms, 48.6 percent of dads) and Technology (31.8 percent of moms, 35.1 percent of dads). The percentages remained similar when families were asked what dads were “primarily” vs. “entirely” responsible for.
• Moms, however, dominated purchasing decisions for children’s products. In fact, dad’s role here was noticeably minimal. Moms said that only 1.1 percent of dads were entirely responsible for buying children’s toys and clothes and dads were in close agreement, claiming sole responsibility for 2.2 percent of toy purchases and 1.2 percent of children’s clothes.
• The balance improved when families were asked where they shared responsibility equally. The four categories that ranked significantly higher than others among both moms and dads were Home Furnishings (51.0 percent of moms and 46.0 percent of dads said decision making here was shared equally), Family Travel (51.0 percent and 46.6), Family Entertainment (43.2 percent and 43.1 percent) and Appliances (41.4 percent and 36.2 percent).                  

“Dads are becoming the new ‘new thing’ in marketing to parents,” said Azzarone. “Our study clearly shows where dads are key decision makers today and where they still play minor roles, so that brands can make wise choices when allocating their marketing dollars.”