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What Dads Really Want For Father’s Day: Highlights From Our Consumer Research

What Dads Really Want For Father’s Day: Highlights From Our Consumer Research

At Create Gift Love we design and make personalised keepsakes to help our customers celebrate the relationships and connections that are most meaningful to them, capturing their memories in the form of heartfelt gifts, to mark life’s big occasions and small moments. Since 2012 our busiest occasion besides Christmas has always been Father’s Day (coming up this year on Sunday 18th June 2023) and over the years we have played a part in making gifts for thousands of dads, grandads and father figures.

Dads are universally believed to be hard to buy gifts for, and although our customers are always looking for thoughtful, personalised tokens of affection for the people in their lives, anecdotally we know that lots of people struggle to find unique gift ideas and are often left frustrated by the stereotypical “dad gifts” on the high street. We wanted to find out what dads really want for Father’s Day so in May 2023 we conducted two consumer research polls, surveying a group of 1,001 randomly selected UK dads and father figures, and a separate group of 1,001 randomly selected UK residents who will be buying gifts for Father’s Day this year. We wanted to find out more about the kinds of gifts we choose our dads vs the kinds of gifts they would like to receive in order to find out if gift shoppers in the UK are getting it right with Father’s Day gifting or missing the mark.

Here’s what we discovered…

Gift categories: what dads want vs what buyers choose

We made a list of 22 common gift categories (including clothes, food, books and vouchers) and asked both the dads and the gift buyers about their tastes. We asked the dads group which kinds of gifts they would really like to receive on Father’s Day, and the buyers groups which kinds they typically choose to give, in order to see how habits and preferences compare.

On the whole it seems that we know what sort of gifts our dads like fairly well, as the top five results of each poll had four gift categories in common. The top five categories usually chosen by gift buyers were food & drink (58.2%), fragrance & grooming (45.8%), clothes (45.3%), mugs (36.5%) and personalised gifts (35.5%), while for dads the top five categories they’d most like to receive were food & drink (37.6%), technology (36.6%), clothes (35.1%), personalised gifts (32.3%) and fragrance & grooming (30.3%).

Dads Poll - Top 10 Categories Buyers Poll - Top 10 Categories

1. Food and drink

1. Food and drink

2. Tech

2. Fragrances and grooming

3. Clothing

3. Clothing

4. Personalised gifts

4. Mugs

5. Fragrances and grooming

5. Personalised gifts

6. Experience days

6. Cards

7. Cards

7. Tech

8. Homemade gifts

8. Socks

9. Shopping gift vouchers

9. Shopping gift vouchers

10. Books

10. Books

(The respondents could select multiple options)

While the top 5 categories shared many similarities in both polls, there was one notable difference. The dads group placed tech gifts – such as headphones, speakers, smart watches and coffee machines – at the number two spot (preferred by 36.6% of dads) whereas it ranked seventh place in the buyers poll, chosen by 25%. So, it seems that dads enjoy tech gifts more than we think. By contrast, 36.5% of the gift buyers surveyed said they would choose to buy their dad or father figure a mug for Father’s Day, however only 15.9% of dads said they would actually like to receive one.

The biggest contrasts in category ranking overall were homemade gifts (ranking 8th in the dads poll and 17th in the buyers poll) and socks (ranking 17th with dads and 8th with buyers!), but more on those later…

Practical gifts vs emotive gifts

We also wanted to know how our respondents felt about gifts that were on the sentimental side. Judging by the high street’s offering and many magazine gift roundups, gifts typically aimed at dads can be very clichéd, focussing on stereotypically “masculine” interests and generic tropes. However, we know that our customers at Create Gift Love like to give more thoughtful gifts so we wanted to ask the public and find out what dads really prefer.

We asked gift buyers whether they prefer to give gifts that are practical or emotive, and 64% answered “practical”. By contrast, we asked the 1,001 dads what would mean most to them on Father’s Day from a short list of options, and only 15% answered “practical”, with the majority revealing that family time (45.8%) or an emotive gift (30.7%) would mean more. It’s worth noting that the dads polled were given more options to choose from than just “practical” or “emotive” so it’s not possible to compare the two surveys like for like, however there does seem to be a clear difference in results: we’re buying our dad’s practical presents when really they would prefer more thoughtful, sentimental gifts or simply quality family time.

In our poll of gift buyers 78% revealed that they struggle to find gift ideas for their dads at Father’s Day, which could be the reason they tend to choose practical presents, like clothes, tools and kitchen equipment. Perhaps these are seen as “safer” options when they are not sure what kind of gift their dad would really like. Interestingly in the gift categories question we discussed earlier, the dads rated “homemade gifts” much more highly than the gift buyers did, supporting the suggestion that dads do in fact prefer more personal Father’s Day presents.

Is personalisation important?

We know that dads enjoy sentimental gifts more than practical ones, but what about personalisation? Given the tendency towards emotive presents it’s no surprise that almost 74% of the dads we surveyed said they would prefer to receive a personalised gift over a non-personalised gift, given the option. Similarly, 77.9% of gift buyers said they would also prefer to buy a personalised gift over a generic one. It’s interesting, then, that only 35% say they usually buy personalised gifts (in the category question), despite their apparent popularity.

We asked respondents to elaborate on the reasons they would (or would not) choose a personalised gift for their dads. On the pro side, respondents said “it’s more thoughtful”, “it would mean more” and “it shows more thought went into the gift”, however on the opposition respondents said personalised gifts were “not his thing” and that “he’s more practical”.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but now that we can see an overwhelming majority of dads would be keen to receive a personalised gift, perhaps more gift buyers may follow their instincts in the future.

Socks: yay or nay?

So, about those socks. We all know they’re a popular gift for him, almost to the point of cliché, but the question is, do dads actually want socks? And the answer: not really.

In our polls, the gift buyers named socks the 8th most common present chosen for Father’s Day, with almost 25% saying they typically buy socks for their dads. However, less than 10% of the dads in our second survey said they would really like to receive socks, placing them 17th in the category ranking. This would suggest that as gift buyers, we’re missing the mark on the sock front. Dads don’t want them as much as we think they do.

At another point in our survey we also asked the dads group to name the worst Father’s Day presents they had ever received and (we’re sorry to say) socks were one of the most frequent responses. Of course, that’s not to say that all dads are anti-sock, but on the whole the survey says no.

How important are sustainably made gifts?

At Create Gift Love we are proud to be a UK small business, creating gifts that are sustainably made in Britain. Manufacturing locally and using sustainably sourced materials and practices are both hugely important to us as a business, but we wanted to find out how important these are to potential customers and those who may receive our gifts, so we asked both the dads and the buyers group for their thoughts.

According to the survey, the majority of dads don’t particularly mind where their gifts are made (with 52.4% saying UK manufacture is ‘not important’ to them), while they do favour sustainably made gifts (71.3% prefer). The results were similar in the buyers poll, with 60% of buyers saying UK manufacture was not important to them, while a combined 69% said that sustainability was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’. For both factors price was the main challenge; 61.34% of buyers said that price was the main factor preventing them from shopping sustainably and 79% said they would prefer to buy UK made products if money was no object.

It’s interesting that in both groups sustainability and UK manufacture were of different levels of importance, as these two factors often go hand in hand. Making products within the UK using local suppliers significantly cuts carbon emissions, thus making them inherently more environmentally friendly, however there are of course lots of other factors in play. 

So, what do dads really want for Father’s Day?

  • Food, tech and clothes are all popular, easy to find gifts that are popular with dads, however…
  • Dads value family time and emotive gifts most of all, and like to receive personalised presents
  • Gifts that have been made in a sustainable way and/or have been made in the UK are favoured but not essential

If only there was a place to find thoughtful, personalised and sustainable Father’s Day gifts, handmade here in the UK…

Check out our best Father's Day gift ideas for 2023.


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