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Father's Day search tips from Google: How brands can make sure they're on the gift list

Compared with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is the new kid on the block at only around 100 years old. Despite that, it’s now big business, with annual UK retail sales worth £330 million [Mintel ‘Seasonal Shopping’ report, UK, August 2014].

But who’s buying what for dad and where – and how can brands make sure they’re on the gift list? Here are some top trends to watch.

Big move into mobile

When sons and daughters are investing in their dads, it’s essential for brands to invest in mobile. In 2014, when Father’s Day queries peaked the week before the event, over 45 per cent of queries came from mobile devices. But this year mobile is already dominating ‘Father’s Day’ terms: it’s producing over 60 per cent of traffic, up 10 points on this time last year [Google internal data]. The march of mobile continues, and smart brands will make sure they keep up.

Who spends what and where?

The good news for both fathers and brands is that 48 per cent of UK consumers buy Father’s Day presents, with 21 per cent spending more than £20. 8 per cent will just give a card. Women are more likely to spend between £10 and £50 on a gift, but men go to both extremes – they are more likely to spend less than £10 or more than £50 [Google Consumer Surveys, UK, February 2015].

And shoppers spend more online. Those who only shop online fork out an average of £25.95, compared with an average spend of £19.86 at all retailers including specialists, supermarkets and other retailers [Mintel ‘Seasonal Shopping’ report, UK, August 2014].

Shopper age is another factor in the spending stakes. Fathers with ‘kids’ aged 25-34 will have the most spent on them, while the 18-24 year olds are the next highest-spending group [Google Consumer Surveys, UK, February 2015].

London: big spenders vs penny-pinchers

Londoners come in two varieties on Father’s Day – those who go all-out and those who keep their wallets firmly zipped. The capital’s consumers are most likely to spend big, with 9.4 per cent shelling out more than £50. But they’re also the group least likely to spend anything at all, with a whopping 49 per cent not buying a gift for Father’s Day.

Dads in South-West England are the most likely to be spoilt, with only 31 per cent of the region’s consumers not buying a present. And it’s the North-East’s consumers who are least likely to splash the cash, with only 1.9 per cent spending above £50 [Google Consumer Surveys, UK, February 2015].

Pop’s top presents

So when dutiful offspring do think about dad’s big day, what do they search for online? Google data shows that the top searches are generic ‘Father’s Day’ searches or people looking for the event’s date. The top gift-related searches include Fathers Day gifts and Father’s Day gifts (note the difference in punctuation), Fathers Day presents, Fathers Day cards, Fathers Day quotes and Fathers Day poems. (Maybe some people are nicking a ready-made poem to copy out in their card).

Either most people think their dads have a sense of humour and are handy around the house, or they’re hoping to make it so. The most frequently-mentioned requirements for Father’s Day presents are “fun” and “practical”. However, this may not translate into a Zombie Survival Experience or a new work shirt: the most-bought gifts are chocolate, whisky, alcohol, books, gadgets and aftershave. Tried, trusted and probably very much appreciated [Google Consumer Surveys, UK, February 2015].

Alison Lomax is head of brand solutions at Google