Didn’t get or give the right Valentine’s day gift this year? You are not alone: the science behind gifting and receiving

A Study of Valentine’s Day gift giving: Do men choose badly? Are women too picky? Both? Neither?


Study of Valentine gift giving EyeSee Research

About two thirds of people celebrated Valentine’s Day this year. Some will have gone out, some will have had dinner at home, some will exchange gifts. Romantics around the world will worry about whether they got the right gift for their significant other… so what does the data say?

We recruited 300 respondents (150 men and 150 women, ages 25 – 40) and asked them to complete two tasks. The first was to shop for their significant others, and the second was to make a Valentine’s Day wish list. The goal was to understand what people would buy for their partners, and what they would want to receive from them. The respondents’ shopping trip consisted of browsing the category pages of the 6 largest online cosmetics and apparel retailers. After shopping, they filled out a survey.


Men receive more of the gifts they want than women…

Correlation between the products purchased and the products on the wish lists was high for both genders. Men can therefore rejoice: as a group, they are not bad at picking gifts… it’s just that compared to men, women are better at it. In the case of men’s products, the correlation between the gifts they want and the gifts they receive is 30% higher than the same correlation for women products. Women thus have better chance of buying the right product for their sweetheart than the other way around.

One of the reasons why women pick better products might not come as much of a surprise: it’s because they spend more time browsing the category and choosing the gifts. On average, it took women 43 seconds to choose a product from a category page, while men made their choices in just 19 seconds. Women might argue that if it lasted longer, they would more likely be satisfied!

man woman products for valentine's day comparison eyesee research graph


… but that might be because women don’t make it easy.

Another reason why women receive less of what they want than men is that they are pickier about what goes on their wish list. Only 1.3 out of 10 products have “high appeal” among women, which we defined as being wanted by 10% of women or more. For men, the equivalent statistic is twice as high, meaning that 1 out of every 4 men’s products have high appeal; women thus have a 25% chance of purchasing a highly appealing gift. Furthermore, 1 out of every 3 women’s products with high appeal were located below the two first (and most easily reachable) rows of the online category pages on which they were shown. Instead, the gifts women coveted were hidden somewhere in the middle or at the bottom of the page – gifts for wives and girlfriends are thus literally harder to pick out of a list.


Women make mistakes (sometimes): men do not want greeting cards and candy.

We know it’s a strong statement to make that women make mistakes, but the data shows they make at least a couple. Women are better at choosing the correct product in a category to gift, but they sometimes pick the wrong category. Men get 2.5 times more greeting cards than they want, and 2 times more sweets than they want – males in this office have been known to say that they expect their female colleagues will eat any candy they receive. So, what advice do the anecdote and data give women? Maybe they should redirect some of that candy and/or greeting card budget towards the purchase of accessories – men would like to get 30% more accessories than they currently receive.

When it comes to men, most get the gift category right; they gift the right amount of sweets, flowers, lingerie, fragrances, etc. But there is still one area that could use improvement: men should take their significant others out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. 60% of women consider dining out to be part of their ideal Valentine’s Day celebration, and while only 40% men agree,  they should consider exchanging gifts over a romantic dinner because the odds are in their favor.

women want women get man want men get valentine's day eyesee research

Other interesting facts:

  • +70% of people search for gift online
  • +80% of people look for discounts when choosing Valentine’s Day gifts
  • +85% of people buy for partners, but +30% of women (16% of men) buy for family members