Forget socks and ties: quality family time is what dad wants most for Father’s Day

Shopping for Father’s Day tends to be a singularly simple affair. Necktie. Beer. Maybe a power tool for the dad who is into DIY. When it comes to celebrating our fathers, it seems, we tend to reach for the tried and true classics. However, according to a recent Rakuten Research survey on Father’s Day in Japan and an Ebates survey from the US, we may be missing the mark when it comes to the gifts we give.

The survey asked 1,000 men and women aged 20-69 a variety of questions about their plans for June 18 (if you don’t know the significance of this date, you better ask dad), as well their feelings about their fathers more generally. Responses showed that Father’s Day is still a far cry from the blockbuster shopping event that is Mother’s Day. Part of the reason may be lack of recognition.

When respondents were asked whether or not they knew the dates of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and their parents’ respective birthdays, the results revealed that anniversaries relating to mothers enjoy much greater awareness. There was a 4.1 percentage point gap in awareness of father’s and mother’s birthdays (78.3% for father’s, 82.4% for mother’s) and a 9.6 percentage point gap for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day (30.5% and 40.1% respectively).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when asked whether or not they gave a present on the most recent Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, a higher ratio of respondents said they gave a present on Mother’s Day (46.1% to 31.7). Still, where moms might win on volume, dad seems to win on value. Respondents reported spending more on average for Father’s Day gifts last year (5,016 yen) than Mother’s Day last month (4,698 yen).

When about the presents they gave their father last year, the most common answer among respondents 20 - 39 was “alcohol."
Rakuten Ichiba’s Father’s Day page suggests that alcohol will be a popular gift for dad, echoing results of a recent Rakuten Research study.

That trend sets Japan apart from the U.S., where the National Retail Federation estimated that a whopping $23.6 billion (more than $185 per person) was spent on Mother’s Day this year. Last year, the NRF put Father’s Day spending at $14.3 billion, or roughly $125 apiece.

So what were the go-to gifts for dad in 2016? When respondents in Japan were asked about the presents they gave last year, the most common answer among respondents in their 20s to 30s was “alcohol,” compared to “food” for respondents in their 40s to 60s.

Just as well, then, that both “alcohol” (10.9%), and “food” (7.8%) were among the answers given by fathers when they were asked about their ideal Father’s Day present. Surprisingly, the top response to that question from these apparently self-effacing fathers was “I don’t need anything” (49.2%).

In contrast, “a meal out with family” came in as the second most popular ideal Father’s Day present (at 12.5%). This seems to indicate a desire to spend quality time with the family and, striking a common note here, that sentiment was echoed in an Ebates survey of U.S. shoppers from last June. Ebates found that the two gifts dads want the most are both experiences that can be enjoyed with the family. 32% of fathers surveyed said that they wanted a vacation for Father’s Day while 31% said they wanted tickets to a sporting event.

While every father is unique, and apparently often quick to play down the importance of their big day, perhaps you can read between the lines this year when your father says there’s nothing he needs, and give him the most valuable gift of all: your love and appreciation.

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