The study -- a combination of focus groups, in-home ethnographies and online surveys taken in May and June -- says that the changing roles of the 66 million dads in the U.S represent a "curious marketing blind spot," since dads exert massive influence in purchase decisions for household categories such as automotive, home improvement, consumer electronics and insurance.
Father knows stress
Household purchase decisions aren't the only things moms and dads are sharing, according to the study. Many fathers reported feeling overburdened with their schedules and like they have no time to themselves, the same feelings mothers reported in a MindShare study conducted last year.
"What surprised me was how similar [fathers] are to moms -- one of the first things we heard in focus groups was how they don't have time to sleep," said Tata Sato, insights director at MindShare's business planning group. (The business planning group is a new unit formed in the agency's recent restructuring, which created a McKinsey-style business consulting unit to supplement MindShare's media planning and buying operations.)
"[Marketers] need to recognize that dads are also very stretched and time-stressed," Ms. Sato said.
Yearning for freedom
In a not-so-surprising finding, the dads surveyed said fatherhood is a huge disruption to their social lives, with kids propelling them to put interests, hobbies and pursuits aside -- including hanging out with their friends. With 40% of fathers reporting that they miss their single days, the dads surveyed also reported appreciating outlets that remind them of being single.
In terms of media consumption habits, the study found that fathers are "voracious information consumers" and that hunting for information, whether online or in print, is a skill and source of pride for many fathers because it allows them to exert a level of control and influence over the household.
In fact, using the internet to access information was the top-named activity for 82% of fathers, beating out watching TV (77%) and going to sports events (60%). If given only one choice of TV channel to have in their households, most dads said they would select either sports or infotainment shows.
Like the moms surveyed last year, fathers reported their prime "me" time is after 9 p.m., with nearly half reporting that they watch TV with an active laptop next to them on their sofas. Dads also reported playing with videogames with their kids approximately three times per week, saying that videogames are an important bonding activity.
The study found generational differences between younger and older fathers, with younger dads 64% more likely to play videogames in their spare time and older dads twice as likely to spend their time reading the newspaper.