Let’s Keep it Clean: Different Priorities for Moms, Dads, Women and Men
During COVID lockdowns, housework and homes were thrust into the limelight. An updated customer segmentation case study for housework and home improvements is essential, and investigating gender differences provides an engaging starting point.
As this viral video by KC Davis points out, moms are judged by different (and higher) standards for what is a “good mom” than the standards for dads of what is a “good dad.” The demographic customer segmentation data shows that this higher standard is more likely coming from moms and women, rather than from dads and men.
Demographic Customer Segmentation in Housework
Research specific to COVID times shows that women are spending more time on housework, whether they are employed or not employed. There is a relatively modest gap on time spent among single women when compared with single men.
In comparison, partnered women with no children present average approximately 30 minutes more time (if employed) to 50 minutes more time (if not employed) on daily housework chores than partnered men with the same employment and childless household status. This chore gap among childless couples is large for both partnered, employed women and partnered, non-employed women.
In this study, the sample size of partnered, non-employed men with children present was not sufficiently robust to compare with partnered, non-employed women of the same status, however, the absolute level of time spent by these non-employed, partnered moms was second only to the childless partnered women.
Another recent study of 2,200 adults finds 67% of women who are in couples working remotely are currently the most responsible for housework such as cooking and cleaning, as compared with 29% of men in the same employment and marital status. Among couples with children under the age of 12, 82% of women reported being most responsible, compared with 31% of men. To be fair, men are more likely to perceive themselves as being equally responsible, but this perception does not translate to spending equal amounts of time on housework.
The gender housework chore gap has existed for many years. Pew reported men ages 18 to 64 spending about six hours less per week on housework, and dads with children less than 18 at home spending eight hours less per week. America Time Use data finds that women are twice as likely to do housework on an average day (46% of women compared with 22% of men).
Childcare and Housework Customer Segmentation Among Parent Households
For parent households, time spent with children is generally considered more satisfying than housework. 63% of moms rated childcare as very meaningful, and 60% of dads rated childcare as very meaningful.
Boston College research on being a good father found the top three aspects of being a “good father” are:
- Provide love and emotional support
- Be involved and present in your child’s life
- Be a teacher, guide and coach
Aspects that are important, but rank at a lower level are:
- Do your part in the day-to-day childcare tasks
- Provide discipline
- Provide financial security
The study found: “This suggests that the fathers’ definition of caregiving may differ from that of their spouses/partner.” In fact, Pew data shows that moms and dads spend equal amounts of time playing with children (recreational time), but that moms spend nearly twice as much time on educational, managerial and physical care of their children, on average.
Additional quantitative understanding of customer segmentation in housework chores and differences in standards between men and women provide additional insights.
Customer Segmentation Case Study: Moms Care More than Dads About Housework
Quantitative Marketing to Moms Coalition research among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American moms (with child less than 18 at home) and nearly 200 dads revealed that most moms have higher standards on a wide range of childcare and housework topics. When asked about the importance of a number of topics, moms tend to rate more highly than dads on nearly all dimensions.
For instance, 85% of moms rate their child’s education as important, as compared with 67% of dads. Similarly, 84% of moms rate their child’s physical safety as important, compared with 66% of dads. And, when it comes to a healthy food or diet for their child and what constitutes putting a good meal on the table, 71% of moms rated this important, as compared with 54% of dads. Foundationally, 88% of moms rated their relationship with the child as important, as compared with 71% of dads.
When we’ve shared these findings at industry conferences, several of the fathers attending have found it illuminating to realize that these are fairly widespread gender differences, as opposed to idiosyncrasies found within their own family unit.
At a basic level, providing a physically and psychologically healthy, safe and clean home environment allows the children to thrive and grow. It can be hard for children to attend to learning in a disorderly home or school environment. This might be some of the reason that moms generally place more importance on the home’s physical appearance and cleanliness.
When it comes to housework specifically, Pew finds that women not only spend more time but that around 46% of mothers rate housework as very meaningful as compared with 28% of fathers. While it’s true that mothers are less likely to be full-time employed, we’ve already seen that employed, partnered mothers are spending more time on housework, so this isn’t easily explained by non-employed mothers focusing more on housework.
Customer Segmentation Case Study: Women Dominate More-Involved Segments
In our experience with customer segmentation and household cleaning, cleaning can be a highly emotionally-involved category.
Motivationally, we found a wide variation in the importance of household chores by consumer segment, with three segments (around 45% of consumers) who consider household chores important. To be clear, there are men and women and mothers and fathers in each of these motivational groups, but there are some clear gender tendencies.
The single most involved segment, “Enthusiasts,” rates household chores in their top five most important aspects of life, behind only family, significant others and adequate sleep. This segment is significantly more likely to be women, with children under 12 present.
There are two segments– “Obligated” and “Minimalists”– who find cleaning and household chores less important. These two groups are disproportionately made up of men and childless households.
After family and significant other relationships and friendships, “Minimalists” prioritize relaxing and time for themselves, along with sleep. For them, household chores rate behind almost every other category studied, including exercising, education and spirituality.
“Obligated” prioritize sleep, relaxing and time for themselves along with relationships, and similarly place household chores last.
To summarize the customer segmentation case study, our work found significant differences between the emotional involvement and importance of household chores by motivational segment.
We also examined perceptions of room cleanliness and found they differed by segment when evaluating the same picture. This is a different finding than University of Melbourne research that found men and women had:
“no difference in their tendency to view it as a messy or clean room…they rated them as equally clean.”
Regardless of how clean or dirty a home is, different segments of customers will choose to prioritize cleaning differently. In addition to cleaning, there are organizational differences between consumers who dislike clutter and prefer organization, as compared to those who are comfortable in a more free-form environment.
If your brand touches upon housework or home improvement, it’s important to have an updated customer segmentation perspective. 75% of homeowners completed a major project during COVID, and cleaning products have never been in higher demand.
While behaviors and demographics provide a good starting point, they don’t tell the whole story. Rich customer insights should also get to the emotional drivers behind decision making and underlying motivations. With the popularity of home improvement and the new focus on household chores of the past year, it’s time to go deeper. This customer segmentation case study is a good place to start.