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The father figure is losing control, reveals Grey Cells’ ‘The Puppet Kings’

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The father figure is losing control, reveals Grey Cells’ ‘The Puppet Kings’

The TG that Grey Cells brings under the scanner in their study ‘The Puppet Kings’ comprises affluent 40-45 year old urban men, who are at the peak of their careers and the height of their earning power. Essentially, these are the chief wage earners in the familial set-up.

Grey believes that given that this TG is rich, prosperous, settled, ‘arrived’, with a high propensity to spend, they are effectively every marketer’s dream come true. Speaking more on why they are relevant to marketers, Grey Worldwide’s Chief Planning Officer, Naresh Gupta, said, “With their lifestyle realities – they are upgrading everything around them, are conscious of social symbols, growing family demands and indulgence spending – we believe that it is a bad idea to not target this TG for many products.”

Given the nature of this TG, Grey Cells began with a quantitative study that included structured interviews involving a sample of 1,400 across seven cities. The idea was to get the SEC A only with at least one unmarried child living with the family.

This was followed by group interviews and follow-up interviews with the wives and in some cases, the children of the participants as well.

One of the significant findings of the study was that the husband-wife equation is fast changing for this group. There is closeness and growing friendliness. Discussions and debates have replaced domination of any kind. The 40+ husbands have become submissive and in some cases even help in the kitchen and other household chores.

Throwing light on the metrosexual myth, Gupta said that there were streaks of openness in this TG today, where women were welcome at the workplace, but there was still a traditional outlook. He said, “They are still of the opinion that it would be nice if the wife stayed at home and took care of the household. So, there is acceptance of the fact that woman is an equal at the workplace, but that isn’t really the ideal situation for them.”

He also drew attention to the fact that the Puppet Kings still believed that many a times women were recruited on the basis of looks and felt that they really didn’t have serious career plans. They also admitted that with younger women at work, there was a tendency to pay attention to self grooming.

They are open to crying today, but not to extra marital affairs. Family for them is responsibility and duty, while friends are fun and freedom. When they are home, they look forward to spending time with their wives.

Children see ‘Dad’ as a friend, who will melt, ‘Mom’ is a problem though. “In fact, this correlates with what we found at ‘Eavesdropping’ – father is my friend,” Gupta pointed out.

He explained that on several issues – even decisions like careers and marriages – older fathers are losing control and are comfortable doing so. Nonetheless, the big investments of the family are still his domain or at least they would like to believe that.

Even as the participants asserted that when it came to cars and houses, the decision was theirs, but when probed further, cars suddenly became the children’s decisions and while the lady of the house decided on the house. The husband merely shells out the money.

From durables to electronics to grocery to holidays – most categories have seen the father figure lose control. “One area where he has absolute total control is being the wealth creator of the household,” said Gupta, adding, “And really that is one key area which leads all other changes. These men are still very highly aspirational and they are looking for some space of their own to indulge in some form.”

“They aren’t looking for stress busters – they feel that they are at the best stages of their lives, growing at great speeds. Self actualisation is high in this TG and marketers should consider this for communication of their products,” added Gupta.

He concluded by saying that the future rested with happiness enablers. Marketers should bring entertainment focus in products, services, variants, communication, heighten positives, rather than reducing negatives. They should seek not to alleviate non-existent stress.

Another area in communication was to think plural. Convince the family and the man will toe the line – whether it was men’s apparel or homes and cars. More importantly, new sensitivities should be accepted – kitchen is not the exclusive terrain of the wife any more. There is massive opportunity for new categories of interest for affluent, older man like convenience cooking and ‘his brands’, where he can indulge himself.

Also see:

After women of tomorrow, Grey Cells examines 40+ men of today


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