Guest opinion: Add to your success equation

Amy Oberg

Mom + Baby has been a very successful equation for drug retailers in the past. After all, babies need lots of “stuff,” and moms historically have been responsible for buying the stuff babies need. The success of the Mom + Baby equation, however, is weakening because it fails to include an increasingly important but often ignored element: Dad. Here’s my forecast for the future: Those retailers who fail to add Dad to the traditional Mom + Baby equation will see their market share decline.

Dads are becoming increasingly involved with parenting and family responsibilities. This increase is being driven by a number of trends, including a new generation of Dads, older and repeat Dads, working moms and changing family economics.

Being a dad isn’t what it used to be. The traditional career-focused absentee dad has been disappearing for three decades. Today’s dads are putting family before work, spending more time with their kids and becoming more involved as parents than previous generations.

Today’s new generation of dads is Millennials who focus heavily on family and believe their role as active parents is very important. The majority of young Millennial men believe a work schedule that allows for more family time is more important than career power or prestige; and at least 7-of-10 indicate they would give up more money for more family time. These young men want to be active, involved fathers and want to take on as much responsibility for child care as moms.

Dads also are increasingly older. While the majority of children are born to men ages 20 to 34 years, the proportion of dads over 40 years is growing. Some over-40 dads are new to the role. Having waited to have children until they are older, they are diving into an active parenting role, including household shopping. Others are divorced and setting up households for themselves and their children, who live with dad part-time. Still others are “do-over dads.”

Do-over dads are older, divorced men who already have children but have remarried and are having second families. These dads already have built their careers and are more interested in family life, creating strong dad relationships and taking on more dad responsibilities then they did when with their first families.

In all of these situations, dads are taking on more family-and household-related duties, and that includes shopping.

As a result of the recession, millions in the United States have lost their jobs—approximately 80% are men, and a disproportionate number of those are over 45 years old. Time to re-employment is often half a year, if not more. For dads—and moms—the tough economy and extended unemployment are bringing a change in traditional family roles and responsibilities. More moms are out working, and more men are at home taking care of the children. It has taken some adjustment, but dads are growing to appreciate their stay-at-home roles. Once re-employed, these dads will maintain a high level of family and parenting involvement.

These trends have lead to an increasingly important role of dad as the family shopper. A 2009 Nielsen study indicated that about one-third of men are now the principal household shoppers, and about one-quarter do at least half of the weekly shopping. The share of retail shopping trips by men increased across all outlets from 2008-2009, while women’s declined. Men also are increasingly buying kids’ clothing, school supplies and educational/entertainment products.

Dads, however, aren’t crazy about shopping. They avoid spending time in stores by shopping online. This means a lot of opportunities in the future for drug stores to attract dad shoppers by building their online presence and dad e-relationships.

Remember, the equation for the future is Mom + Baby + Dad = Success.

Amy Oberg is managing partner of Future-In-Sight, a strategic advisory firm, and a futurist, holding a master of science degree in Studies of the Future. You can contact Oberg at and see her Web site at

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