The Future of Christmas: Myth 3

Recently we announced the latest in our OMD Future of Britain research series: The Future of Christmas.

One of our key findings from this mammoth piece of work was a sequence of popular myths on the subject of the festive period that our data disproved. Over the coming months we’ll continue to share these with you and what the implications are for brands and advertisers.

Myth #3: Men are always last to market

That most men don’t really like to go shopping as much as women do is probably as true as the sky is blue. The stereotype tends to be that men dislike shopping so much that:

  1. they leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute (or maybe they simply forget, and thank Amazon for the £40 last minute delivery option)
  2. and as a result pick up inappropriate and ill thought out gifts*

So let’s focus on the first stereotype: is it true that men ALWAYS buy Christmas gifts at the last minute?

Our study reveals something interesting (and surely surprising to most readers):

Men are relatively quick off the mark when it comes to Christmas shopping for their partner! By the beginning of November 43% of men had already bought one or more gifts for their partner, compared to 30% of women. The gap closes by early December. Women spend more time in the gift cycle, write lists and plan budgets, and no doubt hint to their partner which gift(s) they would like to receive.

My husband will buy for me, BUT I give him a list of things and tell him where to get them.  Female, 43 from Norfolk

Are these men shopping earlier because they’re full of Christmas spirit and love?
The biggest reason that men give for buying presents early is to miss the Christmas crowds. They are much less likely to say they love Christmas shopping – only 29% do. We have seen that men plan less, with two in five saying that they plan gifts carefully to get what they want at the best price, compared to three in five women. For a large proportion of men, it’s a job that needs to be done, so best to get it out of the way.

I’d finished all my online shopping by November and bought the last of my presents from a High Street shop in early December, that was reserved online at Argos and all I had to do was to pay and pick it up. Male, 56, from Middlesbrough

Shopping is a chore. Know what you want! Quick in, quick out. Male, 33, from Manchester

So what?

Men may not love the shopping experience at Christmas (and in general), but this doesn’t mean they leave it to the last minute. Brands can reach quite a large proportion of male gifters as early as October. Those brands that can make the shopping experience easier, more hybrid and pleasurable, or even offer a refuge from the chaos will win!

Only because we now have discovered that men buy Christmas gifts for their partner earlier than women do, that doesn’t mean that they necessarily always get it right. When we asked our respondents about their worst Christmas presents ever one of them told us:

“My worst was a disposable camera from a then boyfriend. It wasn’t even a nice sparkly party one – just a bog standard yellow one you get from a garage. […]. The camera was as disposable as our relationship (though not the reason we parted).” Female, 27, Newcastle

Men can get gifting spectacularly wrong, but as we like to say it’s all about the gesture and not expensive gifts!


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