The Office for National Statistics has reported that the number of women who look after the family or home now stands at 2.06 million, the lowest estimate on record. Conversely, the number of stay-at-home dads reached a record 227,000 last year, 10% up on the previous year.

This may not seem to have an immediate relationship with retail. That is until you consider how the majority of brands and retailers position themselves to families – with the emphasis on mum.

There’s no doubt that the shift from hands-on dad to hands-on family hero is well played out in many campaigns but I have to question whether we are really prepared to reflect current family life in communications? Perhaps we should rethink how we approach this market and particularly the role that dads play.

Our sister team, The Behaviours Agency Family held a series of ‘dad exclusive’ panels to find out how their lives have changed, how they are more involved with their family and whether advertisers really get them. I thought it may be a good time to share this insight with our retail colleagues…

· The number one concern for dads was future and finances. While they were drawn to emotional storytelling advertising, dads rejected the ‘branded’ nature of them. They want to a rational reason to buy, preferably partnered with an offer. Retailers that offer a brand matching policy or seasonal offers would do well to ensure these messages don’t get lost

· Dads cherish time spent one-on-one with their children, so retailers should look at bringing those rare and treasured moments to life in communication – from building something together and sharing a book to even debating about the best filling to have on a sandwich.

· Our panel felt more emotional after becoming fathers and were more open to discussing feelings. But while they enjoyed emotion-led advertising, there is an art to getting it right – not sickly sweet, but rooted in real moments with their children.

· If you get it right, humour can be a winning format and family life provides fertile ground for many humorous moments. Consider the funny things that kids say, children acting like adults and being able to be a child yourself again. But beware about portraying dad as the joker – they’re tired of it. One dad put it beautifully – “There should be an Atticus Finch moment. It’s okay for dad not to be portrayed as cool as long as it’s okay in the end”.

Overall, we found that dads would prefer to be recognised as doing enjoyable, simple things with their kids and who, whilst their children may go out in odd socks, get it right in the end.