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From Father’s Day to birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s day, finding the perfect gift for the male in your life is no mean feat. While the industry is widely stocked with a variety of products and ideas ranging from high end luxury fashion down to humorous gags and practical jokes, gifts for men operates an industry which is wide ranging and yet still throws up some of the retail industries greatest challenges and leads to one of the internet’s biggest searches – what to buy for men.
Of course, retailers who offer vouchers and deals are already halfway there – enticing buyers in with promises of reduced prices and extra features. But before we can reach the voucher stage, the first thing to do is ascertain exactly where gifts for men sit in the retail industry, which industries and sectors are most prominent and appear in the most searches, and what consumers and buyers are looking for to fulfil that all important gifting purchase.
If you ask a man what he wants as a gift, you will likely get one of two answers. It will either be extremely detailed, with a very clear breakdown of exactly what they want (you’re one of the lucky ones!) or it will be a very vague “surprise me”. There is often very little in between. Of course, this is a generalisation relating mainly to adult men and teenagers – younger children are in fact very clear about exactly what gifts they want, with gifts for boys largely sitting in the toys, gadgets and outdoor activities retail industries and sectors.
And so, we return to the original dilemma – what to buy for men and where to go in order to find the perfect gift.
One of the leading trends in the ‘gifts for him’ sector has been the significant increase in the use of the internet and online social media, reflecting our modern reliance on technology and digitalisation, and leading to an increase in the number of blogs, articles, and product review sites which rank, rate and try out various gifts for men. The intention of these articles and pieces is of course to provide the buyer with a breakdown of the best gifts for their target demographic – with everyone from neutral bloggers to retailers creating their own lists in order to draw buyers towards specific brands and products or simply to provide ideas and information. This kind of inspiration is similar in its importance to the way in which we might use visual imagery and magazines to get ideas for home decor – but rather than the aesthetics of a product, the buyer is instead focussing on its viability as a gift.
When it comes to men’s gifts, one of the leading factors that many buyers look for is unique products and items which the recipient wouldn’t think to buy for themselves. For those shopping at the higher end of the market, this could be a designer watch, an aftershave, or a designer briefcase that they have been looking at – relying on the pull of an item which makes the perfect gift due to the fact that it is not typically something which someone might buy for themselves. Top retailers within these sectors who specialise in creating high end and luxurious products with men’s gifting options on offer include:
These retailers each operate in their own retail sector, focussing on everything from fashion to high end coffee, stationary, and accessories. However, what they all have in common is a designer label and an expensive price tag which sits them firmly within the ‘gifts for him’ industry.
For those shopping with lower budgets, we tend to find that some of the leading retailers are those who offer items connected with humour – poking fun at lifestyle choices made by the gift recipient, or simply offering up a funny gift designed to make them laugh. Another situation in which comic gifts are particularly prevalent is the gifting for male friends and colleagues – with Secret Santa popping up on annual basis as one of the most searched queries on gifting sites with regards to gifts for men. Top examples of retailers operating in the ‘gifts for him’ humour sector include:
Linked with humour is the rise in personalised gifts – creating ideas and gifts which lean on personalisation as the main draw rather than the product itself. Some great examples include BBQ accessories and sporting equipment like golf clubs and golf balls – all sitting within popular niche markets for men, with the personalisation turning a normal item into something worthy of a gift. While more and more high street retailers are using personalisation to increase their gift sales around Valentine’s, Christmas and other top occasions like Father’s Day, ecommerce marketplace retailers and independent sellers own a large place in the personalised gift marketplace primarily because their products are handcrafted and lend themselves to various levels of personalisation and adaptation to suit the customer’s needs.
Another large section within the ‘gifts for him’ market is the sporting and outdoor retailer industry, tapping into the idea that boys and men like adventure and are always happy to receive practical gifts which they can use both in their everyday lives and outside of the 9-5 routine. Of course, this category of gifts for men won’t be suitable for every recipient and does require some prior knowledge of the gift recipients hobbies and possessions, however for those looking at gifts for partners and family members the sporting industry has in recent years taken on more of a hand in the gifting industry – offering specially packaged gift sets and one-off gift products.
Typical retailers which offer gifts within the sporting and outdoor sector include:
And then we come to the gift industry retail sector which is becoming more and more popular every year, particularly with men being so notoriously difficult to find physical gifts for – the experience industry. Dominating a huge majority of the gift industry across virtually every occasion and recipient demographic, the experience industry is one which has always had the potential to be its own retail sector but has only in recent years found its place thanks to the rise of retail ecommerce sites like Virgin Experience and Red Letter Days. Experience vouchers are also available across a range of retail industries now, with retailers and high end cafes and restaurants partnering with voucher code sites and deal sites in order to promote various offers and discounts. Some of the top experiences tailored to men across these retailers, as indicated by the “gifts for men” setting on their ecommerce sites, include:
Top products and trends in the ‘gifts for men’ industry
Answering the age old question of what to get for a boy or a man is best confronted when broken down into age categories, with younger boys sitting at the easier end of the scale with their affinity for all things whimsical and adventurous like pirate ships, motor cars, spaceships and superheroes. Of course, the market is constantly changing with more and more of a focus on gender neutralisation and a move away from giving toys and games gender specific marketing – meaning that as you investigate the industry further, you will likely find an increase in the amount of children’s toys which are very neutral in their tone and colouring as well as the kind of demographic that they are looking to target. Some great examples include tool sets, train sets and motor cars, and planet earth images and learning games.
Other popular products within the ‘gifts for him’ industry for younger boys include:
Moving forward to the industry of gifts for older boys and young men, including teenagers, this is where the product list starts to become a little more gender oriented – whether the boy you are buying for is into more masculine or more feminine activities. This is also the age category where the top products list becomes infinitely more technological and digital, with top items including:
The last in that list represents a major trend in the ‘gifts for men’ industry which is key for both young adults and full grown men – the rise in the popularity and prominence of men’s cosmetic and self-care regimes, including a focus on skin health, vitamin supplements, aftershave and scented balms, and general skincare. The rise in awareness around this particular trend is a result not only of the clean shaven and immaculately presented male models on social media and across television and films, but also is due to the rise in the work-life balance and the idea that a well-groomed man may in fact make it further in a corporate setting. As such, male grooming has become intrinsically linked with social standing, and now represents a very prominent role within the ‘gifts for men’ industry – with high end and high street brands offering various gift sets suitable for year-round gifting and specific Christmas gifting. Some key examples of skincare brands for men which have developed to produce special gift sets include:
While many of these can be purchased directly through the brand’s own ecommerce sites, department and health and beauty stores also occupy a large place in the men’s skincare and skincare gifts industry.
And skincare isn’t the only retail sector which is turning to gift sets in order to reach and appeal to the gift shopping market – particularly with regards to ‘gifts for men’. Many high street and ecommerce stores fill their shelves with gift sets before and during popular holiday and gifting seasons, with some other top sectors including the food and drink sector, sporting sectors, aftershave brands and products, and even clothing and outfit sets. Not only do these allow the brand and retailer to present multiple products packaged together, leading to additional exposure for a captive customer to new products, but they also provide ease to the customer by packaging the items in such a way that they are already presentable as a gift.
Of course, gift cards provide an easy solution if you are looking to purchase a gift that a boy will like – however some stats released in August 2020 revealed that since 2008, there is over $44 billion sitting in gift cards which has been unredeemed. When you look at it like that, perhaps buying a gift from one of those ratings and reviews lists doesn’t seem so difficult after all. If you do decide to opt for gift cards instead of physical gifts, consider the value of an experiential gift card or token rather than an instore card, or select a specific retailer rather than a wide ranging high street or technology card.
When it comes to exploring the industry around ‘gifts for him’, no matter age group of demographic you are shopping for, the likelihood is that you will find yourself drawn towards product lists and gift ideas, as well as vouchers and deals across a whole array of sectors. The ideal gift for a male is one which presents something they would not otherwise buy for themselves – for example a personalised item, something luxurious or coveted to their age group and demographic, or something funny and/or whimsical.
Visit the ‘Gifts for Him’ category to see which retailers are already offering vouchers and deals to make your shopping experience easier.
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