Millennial Dads Tackle Grocery Shopping

It’s been a long-standing convention that food brand marketing should be directed toward women – moms in particular – as females have traditionally been the ones purchasing groceries on behalf of their families. But with the rise of the Millennial generation and accompanying gender role changes, it’s time to rethink the importance of the male shopper. With this younger demographic of adult males playing bigger roles in the household and taking on domestic responsibilities like grocery shopping, brands might reconsider the significance of the male consumer, specifically those dubbed ‘Millennial dads.’

The Rise of Millennials

Millennials, the group of consumers aged 18-34, are no longer just a trendy demographic. In fact, data from the Pew Research Center in 2016 concluded that Millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. With a median age of 30 years old, that’s a lot of consumers who have a huge economic impact on food purchasing decisions. Studies done by Exponential show that Millennials as a generation are dropping about $170 billion per year into the economy and are projected to spend roughly $200 billion annually starting this year.

Gender Role Shifts

Sure, we know a lot about the shopping trends of women and moms in particular – when they shop, how they shop, and who they shop for – and there’s been plenty of research on how best to communicate with them. Moms have been the marketing world’s darlings for a while and that focus has made a lot of sense. Today, with the rise of the Millennial generation and more couples starting families later in life, young dads are embracing a new role, thereby creating a noticeable shift in gender responsibilities. It seems these Millennial dads focus more on family-time than generations before them; they’re redefining fatherhood by spending more time with their families, doing a larger portion of the household responsibilities, and generally making more trips to grocery stores.


Yes, gone are the days of the stereotype that men don’t like to shop. In 2016, The Hartman Group published insights to reveal almost half of all primary grocery shoppers are male (43%), with men in shared households shopping frequently and making just as many monthly store visits as women.

Shopping for Convenience & Quality

Millennial men may be making frequent trips to the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean they shop in the same way as their female counterparts. This group of men tends to shop the club, convenience, and online channels more than women, largely in part because these allow for a faster purchasing experience. But don’t mistake male shoppers’ grab-and-go buying behavior for a willingness to accept items of lesser quality.

Millennial dads have a higher spending average, with an increased cost per item on fewer products overall. The implication is that Millennial dads are seeking out quality over low price, spending more time researching and analyzing products to find the best items for their families… even if it means spending a few extra bucks. That said, Millennial dads are becoming increasingly more interested in quality food and artisan products, genuinely inspired by the growing trend of farm-to-table cuisine and restaurant-inspired cooking. Clearly, this group is a distinct and important part of the big picture going forward.

Changing the Game

It’s clear Millennial dads need a place in your marketing strategy, so now’s the time to reassess how to best leverage and target this new demographic of shoppers. When it comes to the purchasing power of Millennials, there are a few key points to remember:


  • Millennial moms are not necessarily assuming the role of primary store shopper exclusively. Almost half of all primary grocery store shoppers are male.
  • Millennials don’t subscribe to the traditional gender norms of previous generations. Millennial dads are redefining fatherhood and their role in the household.
  • Age and generation play a role in shopping behavior. Millennial dads shop as frequently as Millennial moms, but gravitate toward a more ‘grab-and-go’ philosophy, making purchases with smartphones and shopping apps to save time.
  • Millennial dads often choose quality over a lower price. Millennial dads tend to spend more on items they think are of good quality and right for their family, and aren’t concerned about finding the best deal.

Now is the time to cash in on this opportunity by extending marketing efforts toward dad recruitment and gender equality. Consider how your advertising and public relations strategies, in addition to packaging, signage and technology integration, can benefit and appeal to the Millennial dad through these key strategies:

  • Focus on advertising that appeals to both male and female Millennials. Long gone are the days when the clueless dad aimlessly roams the grocery store aisles on the hunt for items from mom’s grocery list. Today’s young dads are making their own informed choices and brands that show a more accurate picture of family life are more likely to earn the attention and respect of Millennial parents.
  • Highlight relatable family experiences in your ads. Showcase experiences and products that dads and kids can enjoy together or aim to focus on engaging the entire family through equal male/female advertising.
  • Spotlight the details and quality of your product. Your brand will rise to the top of a Millennial dad’s consideration if you tap into his desire for quality and convenience, including plenty of details for him to make an informed decision and feel good about the purchase.
  • Utilize the digital space. Connect with young dads where they hang out most: the digital world. Millennial dads rely heavily on mobile to research and shop – and are more likely to buy on impulse – so tap into this by creating a notable online presence, enlisting mobile offers and geo-targeted notifications to help promote your brand at the point of purchase.
  • Stay relevant with meaningful online shopping experiences. Show how your brand understands the demands of the Millennial dad’s lifestyle through relevant content tailored to his priorities and technological demands.

Given these insights, it’s clear we must acknowledge the spending power of the Millennial dad now. By leveraging relevant and emerging industry trends to focus on this demographic, you’ll have a more successful brand strategy that aligns with how Millennials make decisions, and in turn appeal to both the dads and moms of this growing generation.

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Tori Brumfield Vice President Management Supervisor EvansHardy+Young
Tori Brumfield, VP/Director of Client Services

Tori started her career at Publicis and Kramer-Krasselt, where she worked on various national consumer brands. Fortunately for EHY, she has spent the last twenty years guiding work on key food and hospitality clients, with particular emphasis on strategic leadership for integrated marketing and advertising programs targeted to both B2C and B2B audiences. She currently leads our Account Service and Social Media teams and plays an important role in establishing and guiding brand strategy across client accounts.