Six weeks ago, my wife and I welcomed into the world our third son. Having a new baby has thrown me back into a now familiar routine of subscribing to different resources — such as coupon programs for baby items — and it is still clear that marketers for baby products still do not know how to talk to modern dads.
Due to some medication that my wife is on, we need to exclusively bottle feed this time around. Given that formula is so expensive, one of the first things I turned to was Similac and Enfamil looking for coupons and reward programs. Just like most things related to babies, every site and service is heavily skewed towards moms. Similac goes as far as to call their program the “Sisterhood of Motherhood” and the rewards program, “StrongMoms.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t irk me a bit that dads get a bad wrap in most marketing materials when it comes to parenting. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t agree with articles slamming Similac for their one-sided focus on moms. That all said, though, as a marketer myself, I do get it. Unless you’re trying to grow within a specific segment or increase market share in new areas, you use the majority of your funds or budget to talk to your largest audience. Given this, it does make sense that most marketing for child rearing items is targeting at moms. I get it.
If I understand it, then what is my issue? I recently received an email from Enfamil that set me off. Not because of some sense of righteous indignation by being referred to as a mom in the subject line, “Hello, Mom. How can we help?” It was because if the marketers at Enfamil were paying attention to their data, they would know I am not a mom.
Overall, my frustration doesn’t come from the fact that I’m being ignored by marketing materials as a dad — I’m unfortunately used to that. My frustration is because the marketers at Enfamil are outright ignoring the data they have. Most enterprise-level email programs allow marketers to create automation paths based on the data they have on their customers. Do I think that Enfamil needs to spend a ton of marketing budget to create a program for fathers? It would be nice, but no. Would it be too much to have them not call me a mom in their emails because they know I’m a dad? No, it wouldn’t. Just changing their subject line or making a second template would completely solve the problem. Since they would be using data they have already collected, the costs to implement would be minimal.
In the end, do I think that all baby product vendors need either gender neutral advertising or programs for dads? It would be great, but I would understand if they didn’t. What they need to do — and this goes for all digital marketers — is to use the data they have from their customers to create “surprise and delight” experiences, provide great customer support, and segment messaging to improve conversion rates and brand perceptions.