News & Opinion

Trinity Mirror Solutions & OMD release 'The Future of Parenting' study

The joint project outlines parental attitudes towards advertising and addresses stereotypes surrounding parenthood and the roles of mum and dad in modern family life.

Based on a survey of over 2,000 parents in the UK, the research finds that 19% of participants believe advertising represents their experience of parenthood, with older parents increasingly feeling neglected by advertisers. Results show that 5% of those aged 55-64s feel advertising represents their experience of parenthood compared to 45% of 16-34s.

Based on analysis of 20 leading brands, the study reveals that 40% say 'understanding me and my family' is essential yet 12% associated the trait with the brands they were questioned on. A similar pattern was repeated across a number of metrics, including 'trustworthy', 'genuine' and 'understanding of family life'.

The research also demonstrates the pressures of being a parent, which is particularly evident among mums – they are significantly more likely to feel pressure to be the perfect parent (62% vs 53% dads) and find it difficult to switch off (51% vs 42% dads). Mums also rate themselves higher than dads on being a role model to their children for 'helping others' (67% vs 47%), 'positivity' (66% vs 57%), and 'sharing responsibilities' (55% vs 49%).

When it comes to household chores, the study shows behaviour falls short of attitudes. Although 50% of parents say doing the laundry should be a shared responsibility, 78% of mums say they are solely responsible for doing it. This pattern is repeated across all household chores with the exception of DIY, taking out the litter and gardening, where dads are more likely to be solely responsible.

While dads may not be as 'hands on' around the house, when it comes to child-related tasks, expectation and behaviour is much more aligned. The majority of parents perceive childcare related responsibilities to be shared equally, with behaviour seeming to reflect attitudes. For instance, 79% of parents say bedtime should be a shared responsibility, compared to 73% who say both parents take responsibility.

As a result of the work, Trinity Mirror Solutions and OMD have a number of recommendations for brands looking to tap into the parent market:

  • Understand the diversity of parenting and move beyond narrow definitions such as 'housewives with kids'
  • Ensure an understanding of parents and reflect this in communications
  • Play a supportive role, relieving pressures and celebrating success
  • Tread carefully when talking to parents, finding the right balance between being realistic and reflecting the experiences of different parents and being patronising

Commenting on the research, Andrew Tenzer, head of group insight for Trinity Mirror, said: "Engaging in lazy stereotypes does little to help brands connect with parents. It's time for advertisers to give more thought to how they are portraying parents, and appeal to their desire to be supported, not stereotyped."

Sarah Gale, head of insight at OMD UK, added: "With only 19% of our respondents believing that advertising represents their experience of parenthood and nearly eight million families with dependent children in the UK today, advertisers need to sit up and start paying attention to the huge proportion of parents who sit outside their traditional targeting parameters. We hope this research helps brands engage in a more authentic way with this audience." 

You can find out more about the research here.

by Lydia O'Neill 30/11/17

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