Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal there are more stay at home fathers in the UK since records began in 1993. The ONS believes 10% of fathers are in this position. That equates to 227,000 men and represents a rise of 19,000 in just one year.
Put another way, this healthy trend means there are almost quarter of a million fathers that have primary responsibility for buying nappies, shampoos, toys, childcare services and so on. All too often, however, these goods and services are marketed at women.
I’ve seen books with the phrase “read with mummy” stamped on the cover and I’ve seen children’s shampoos and bubble bath sold with the phrase “mum and me” stamped on the packaging. I’m also aware of a formula milk manufacture that operates a “mum and baby club”.
These are just three examples of lazy, outdated marketing that I’m aware of. The examples are legion and every one appals me. The point is this marketing really is unbelievably lazy. It says; “don’t worry about the blokes, they only make up 10% of the market, go for the other 90%”.
Such an approach is incredibly short sighted. The ONS statistics reveal a staggering increase in the number of us men undertaking the childcare in a very short space of time. The trend will only go one way.
In more and more households women are earning more than their husbands and partners. Once a mother’s brief spell of maternity leave is over it will increasingly make economic sense for the father to stay at home. When couples divorce these days the parents usually get joint custody so dad increasingly has to shop for his children. We also have a Government that is intent on legalising gay marriage and this will inevitably lead to an increase in gay men adopting and raising families.
If businesses insist on marketing children’s products solely to mothers their profit margins will suffer. There is a reason why household cleaning products rarely feature pictures of women on the packaging and it’s about time the same logic was applied in the parenting world.
I make every effort to boycott products and services that fail to account of us fathers. I can think of some fantastic products that I’ve purposefully avoided because of the sexist way they are marketed.
Us men are on the march and we’re spending money on our children. If your business doesn’t take account of the increasing number of us doing the childcare then it deserves to fail. The clever companies changed their ways some time ago and I suspect they’re going to do rather well as a result.