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Gifting traditions around Mother's Day and Father's Day



A bouquet of flowers, hand-written cards, and customized tokens of affection — these familiar gift exchanges are a common tradition on annual holidays devoted to parents across the globe: Mother’s and Father’s Day.


Founded by Anna Jarvis to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children, Mother’s Day started as an anti-war movement in the 1900s and was immediately adopted by nations worldwide. Similarly, a woman who, from a young age, was graciously raised by her widowed father birthed Father’s Day.


In commemoration of Mother’s Day, we looked into consumer purchase decisions relating to gifting ideas and products on Amazon in the United States. Our Culture AI examined over 1000 Amazon reviews of top-selling Mother’s and Father’s day gifts to demystify the main clusters and themes highlighted from these product purchases. We also did a deep dive comparative analysis to decode the search behavior of consumers for the two occasions.



Key insights from top-selling Mother’s Day products


We looked at the best-selling Mother’s Day gift items on Amazon to understand the main areas of appeal for customers while purchasing products. From jewelry to handbags and beauty products — we found that consumer intent for buying these gifts for their loved ones was as follows:


Value for money


They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and customer reviews for this category couldn’t agree more! We noticed the desire to gift items such as designer bracelets, gold-plated watches, and silver studded earrings because they are aesthetically pleasing and give the recipient the perception of receiving a high-value gift. Consumers purchasing these gifts are generally thought of as brand-conscious, apprehensive shoppers that want to get the best bang for their buck.


“I love the fact that these earrings are lightweight. Wore these to a christening and they were not too big and the sizing was just right. They were just perfect for the occasion, got the job done and I didn't have to spend [an] arm and [a] leg.”


Indulgence


As the easiest, most sought-after last-minute gifts, flowers, chocolates, and cakes make for the best obligatory purchases for those with a busy schedule. Curated, customized, and ribboned-up hampers made specifically for gifting are available as items that recipients would appreciate, with minimal effort required on the part of the sender. One of the primary reasons that mothers who receive these gifts enjoy them so much is because of their indulgence value and the fact that they are dopamine inducers!


“The best gift to get yourself when you're a mom to three special needs children, stuck quarantining, and feeling like you just want to eat your feelings to not blow up on everyone”


High utility value


An important aspect that buyers consider when shopping for their loved ones is the usability of the products they are gifting. In general, items like handbags, fashion accessories, gift cards, and back massagers are considered to be useful products for day-to-day use. Consumers purchasing these gifts are generally more considerate and spend more time deciding on the item that the beneficiary would appreciate the most. The utility value of these products is considered to be more significant as opposed to the amount of indulgence they provide.


“Love this bag. Holds so much. My reading glasses, lipstick, pen, coins, bills, receipts and all my cards, insurance, rewards, license, prescription”


Portability


With the past year leading to people being locked inside their homes for months at a stretch, travel seems to be the first (and only!) thing on each of our minds. With domestic travel spiking in most countries, and in anticipation of future international travel, there exists a need and desire to gift portable products. Multi-compartment wallets, neck pillows, and jewelry travel kits are popular picks to give globetrotters!


“Perfect travel bag to keep your makeup and beauty supplies organized and safe while traveling. Love how I can travel with all my essentials in one container.”



Key insights from top-selling Father’s Day products


Unlike the well-thought-out gifts for mothers, we noticed that products bought for fathers follow a more laissez-faire approach. Purchases are more intuitive, impulsive, and fun-loving!


The cool quotient


They say that it is often easier to please men with gifts that bring out the inner child in them. Instead of gifting practical items that involve thoughtful decision-making, these gifts are usually impulse-buys that are purchased for their cool, unique aspects. Products such as reusable bullet-shaped ice cubes, LED flashlight gloves, and magnetic wristbands have the common denomination of being different and exciting items that may or may not have a high utility value. Even then, these purchases are sure to bring about delight and exhilaration for the recipient!


“My husband thought it was really cool! Love the little tools and love the size of the Keychain. Not too big or bulky”



Humor-driven indulgence


More often than not, it’s easier to keep things plain and simple. We observed that humor-driven, quirky gifts are popular gifting items for fathers. There are a variety of coffee mugs, shirts with funny captions, and other gag gifts that have a large number of positive customer reviews for giving the receiver a good laugh. Even though these items are not unique, they make for the ideal last-minute, impulsive, yet gratifying gifts for fathers. They are frequently purchased alongside the main present given to the recipient, to offer innocent chuckles.


“I bought this as a gag gift for my husband but they're actually pretty cool! He likes them a lot!! The LED lights are super bright!”



It’s one of a kind


Even though gifts for fathers tend to be more gratifying as opposed to being functional on a day-to-day basis, they are unique in nature. Gift products such as personalized sundial compasses, globe-shaped whiskey dispensers, and other cool electronic gadgets are great for recipients who generally have everything and are difficult to buy presents for. Not only do these items offer a distinct twist to mainstream gifting, but they also make the giftee feel extra special.


“This is a Christmas gift for my son-in-law who "has everything" and is extremely difficult to buy for. On special occasions, he enjoys sipping a nice whiskey but doesn't have anything special for enjoying the moment. This set is attractively packaged in a wooden box with two unique glasses and granite "rocks". I am positive he will be more than pleased to receive it, and I feel proud to give it.”



$$ talk


To understand how much consumers spent on Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts on Amazon, we averaged out the price of the top 40 products sold on the platform. While the mean spend on gifts for Mother's Day in the past year is $36, for Father’s Day it is $26.


The average price spend ties into the primary insights we deciphered for both categories. Since gifting for moms generally involves more practical, functional, and occasion-specific items, they generally tend to be of a higher price compared to the lower ticket purchases for dads that mainly comprise of smaller accessories and items. After all, many believe that buying an acceptable gift for women is no easy task!



Decrypting significance through search behavior


We investigated Amazon keywords relating to Mother’s and Father’s Day gifting in order to understand consumer search behavior insights.


While some of the top keywords for the Mother’s Day category were “mothers day gifts”, “mothers day gifts basket”, and “mothers day gifts DIY”, those for Father’s Day were “fathers day gifts”, “fathers day gifts idea”, and “fathers day gifts from daughter”.


Interestingly, we found that the average monthly search volume of the top 5 keywords for Mother’s Day was higher than Father’s Day (146580 vs. 114080 searches). This goes to say that more people are searching for gifts for their moms, signifying the fact that the occasion holds more value for people and is more widely celebrated as compared to Father’s Day.


The high volume could also indicate that the same group of people is searching for the gifts multiple times in order to make a thoughtful, educated decision on presents for their loved ones. The search volume results tie into the main areas of appeal we demystified for this category- since gifts for moms are more functional and thoughtful, it comes as no surprise that people do not wish to make rash decisions while choosing these products.


On the other hand, we noticed that even though search volume is higher for mothers’ gifting products, people searching for presents for their dads generally spend more time looking for them. People wanting to buy gifts for their fathers start the search 2 months prior to the occasion as compared to a 1 month lookout period for mothers’ gifts.


The longer search period implies that people are looking for unique presents to give their fathers, and may also be more confused and indecisive about what to purchase. Unlike the more straightforward, practical decision-making involved in buying women’s gifts, it is often more cumbersome to search for an ideal, useful gift for men. For this reason, gifters of fathers’ products end up purchasing unusual and less essential items as compared to mothers’ presents.



Delving deeper into search takeaways


One of the common search patterns we found for both mothers and fathers gifting categories was the desire for personalized products. Keywords such as “mothers day gifts to grandma”, “fathers day gifts from wife”, and “mothers day gifts personalized” imply that consumers are looking to buy products that are customizable to their likes as well as to the preferences of their giftee, and will therefore be remembered.


Gifting brands should note that even though customers may be open to the idea of purchasing generic products, they would prefer to give items that allow them to leave a personalized mark for their loved ones.


Write to us at [email protected] to learn more about our work.


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