Consumer Insights: Spike’s ‘State of Man’

by Kimberly Maxwell, Strategic Insights and Research, Spike

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Over 40 percent of men do more work around the house than their fathers did. Nearly a fifth of fathers are stay-at-home dads. Indeed, liberated from traditional stereotypes, men have re-imagined manhood in America.

Our “State of Man” study explores how today’s men balance home, work, relationships and parenting by using their own tools and skills to create innovative solutions. It reveals that a “MacGuyver Manhood” vision for masculinity has emerged, which is all about getting the job done, getting real and getting in the game. And, reporting on how men have redefined manhood, it reveals the universal rules needed to reach them.

The Findings:

Today’s man faces unprecedented challenges, such as the ‘mancession’ and work/home imbalance.

  • Despite the sagging economy, 1 in 2 men and women agree that being a man today still means being a provider
  • Nearly three-quarters of men agree that they give up some masculinity to be loving and nurturing fathers.
  • 68% experience problems with their employer because of job/parent conflicts.

 In the wake of these challenges, a new vision of manhood has emerged.

  • 84% say manhood is about having confidence in all you do, 83% say it’s about doing what needs to be done without being asked and 82% say it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone.
  • As men embrace new challenges, they are actually happier for it – only 1 in 4 say stress is a major problem versus 4 in 10 women that say the same.

This new vision of manhood, “MacGuyver Manhood,” is all about getting the job done, getting real and getting in the game.

  • Getting the job done: While the traditional model of manhood emphasized personal success, the new one finds power and accomplishment in more ways – from home as well as work.
    • 83% of men agree that “being a man” is having a career with work/life balance and three-quarters agree that it means having a career in an enjoyable field.
    • Household partnerships have been redefined as traditional gender roles have been dismantled.
      • About a third of men now share the responsibility for house work like grocery shopping (38%), laundry (32%) and house cleaning (36%).
      • 62% of men agree that sharing household chores is one of the three keys to successful marriage.
      • 86% of men agree that being a man today means doing what is necessary to keep your household running.
      • 44% of men do more work around the house than their father did.
  • Getting real: In the “MacGuyver Manhood” paradigm, “what men do” is no longer the defining characteristic of manhood. Today’s men value authenticity and strength of character, relationships, family and friendships.
    • Top life goals are to provide for family, find a career that brings happiness, find a life partner and be a good parent.  
    • In the past, it was career first, home second. Now, men seek to balance life partner and career.
      • 83% say they collaborate with their spouse in all roles of life, 81% prioritize pleasing their partner sexually and 76% place value on being romantic.
      • 73% are okay dating women who earn significantly more than them.
      • Men now participate more in their children’s lives. One in 5 fathers are stay-at-home dads and 45% of men would be very willing to stay at home if their wives made more money.
      • Men traditionally viewed friendships as an escape, but the new model for manhood increasingly envisions friends as both escape and support.
        • While 40% view their friendships as mostly social, 24% view friendships as mostly supportive and 36% view them as both social and supportive.
  • Getting in the game: In the past, men would take a time out, but today, they come to play – with a sense of adventure.
    • Men are comfortable being on a journey without knowing the destination, they are taking what life throws at them in stride and they are using wit and ingenuity to get by.


Marketers’ messaging should reflect the truth of men’s experience today rather than stereotypes from yesterday. Brands that hit the right note combine wit, brawn and ingenuity, and should:

  • Validate men’s sense of accomplishment
    • Show men being useful
    • Show men being appreciated
  • Consider multi-dimensional portrayals of men
  • Appreciate men’s achievements, and honor confident men

The methodology:

This study was conducted via a national online survey of 1,500 men and 500 women 18-49 years old; buddy groups (in Milwaukee, Raleigh, New York and Seattle) and one-on-one interviews with men (in Austin, Brooklyn, Detroit, Philadelphia and Santa Cruz). For this study, Spike partnered with The Sound Research and HotSpex.

Kimberly Maxwell is senior director of Strategic Insights Research for Spike.

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