June 20, 2019

Mother's Day vs. Father's Day Gifting: The data marketers need to know

Are there differences between how consumers approached both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year? Jim Johnson presents the data that can help marketers understand the driving forces behind gift-giving.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson
Vice President, Account Planning, VDX.tv
Mother's Day vs. Father's Day Gifting: The data marketers need to know

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be tough to shop for, as many gift options feel generic or boring, especially those for dad. The types of gifts we do end up giving to our Moms and Dads differ drastically depending on the recipient. Moms can expect to receive a heartfelt sentimental gift, such as a family photo collage, while dads might have a shiny new hammer to look forward to. Americans also spend a whole lot more on Mom than they do on Dad (approximately $10 billion more this year, according to the National Retail Federation). Survey data also suggests that the gift choices that children and spouses make are often off the mark. A 2018 Groupon survey noted that 40% of Moms faked their reactions to their Mother’s Day gifts, while “nothing” was the answer chosen most by fathers surveyed in an April YouGov RealTime research poll when asked what gifts they want for Father’s Day (maybe because they’ve received enough neck ties over the years to fill a closet?).

So why do consumers spend more on Mom? And why do we tend to lean toward more symbolic gifting for our Mothers, while Dads are relegated to more functional or utilitarian gifts? And if a large percentage of Moms don’t like their gifts, and many Dads now don’t want anything at all, how can consumers make more informed gifting decisions?

Informed ad targeting

Brands and marketers have a responsibility in connecting their products to the right consumers. And with online shopping becoming a main source for purchasing decisions, contextual data for ad-targeting is crucial to ensure brands and marketers are reaching the right audience at the right time. VDX.tv analyzed contextual data to help provide brands and marketers with an informed approach – and thus, consumers making last minute purchase decisions. This analysis examined what the American audience was researching and shopping for when purchasing gifts for Mother’s Day, what Moms were shopping for during the same timeframe when considering gifts for themselves, Father’s Day gift shoppers, as well as Dads shopping for themselves.

It turns out that we understand what Mom really wants a bit better than Dad. Here’s what our online audience were shopping for and researching for Mother’s Day gift giving:

  • Manicure/Pedicure (40x more likely than the average Internet user)
  • Bath Products (35x)
  • Wine (35x)
  • Spa Services (32x)
  • Travel Destinations: Barbados (31x), Chile (31x), Bahamas (29x)

And when Mom is shopping for herself? Here’s her list:

  • Activity and Event tickets, such as concerts or theater (151x)
  • Beauty and Hairstyling (44x)
  • Skin Care (40x)
  • Cruise Destinations (30x)
  • Art and Museums (26x)
  • Travel: California (138x), Colorado (127x), Nevada (110x), Vermont (25x)

In looking at this data, it seems we want to pamper Mom with wine, bath and spa services, and trips to exotic destinations, which largely align with her preferences and expectations (with perhaps the exception of travel, where gift givers are thinking exotic and Mom is thinking more practical/restful).

And what about Dad? Here’s what people are researching and shopping for online for Father’s Day gifting:

  • Greeting Cards (96x)
  • Power Tools (93x)
  • Luggage (38x)
  • Garden Tools (29x)
  • Apparel (14x)
  • Beef (13x)
  • Beer (6x)

And here’s what Dad is shopping for himself:

  • Tickets to sporting events, including Baseball (50x), Soccer (42x), Extreme Sports (33x) or Car Racing (33x)
  • Cameras (48x) and Camcorders (31x)
  • Sports Equipment and Outdoor Gear (42x)
  • Travel Supplies (32x)
  • Hiking/Camping Gear (15x)

Our gift giving ideas look a lot like the stereotypical Father’s Day gifts that we’ve all come to know and not necessarily love. A greeting card, tools, maybe some items for a cookout or BBQ. But what dad really wants is quite different, from sports tickets, to cameras, travel supplies and outdoor gear, all things that enable memorable experiences with their families.

The new age of gift-givers

So what do we make of this? Considering that the most recent generation to fully enter adulthood and become parents are millennials, there’s opportunity for brands and marketers to target the new age of gift givers with insight perhaps not previously taken advantage of. With this data analysis as your guide, brands and marketers can help gift givers – current and future – create a memorable day for their Moms, Dads and spouses, and maybe even save a little money on that ugly necktie.

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