Although the association of carnations with Mother’s Day began in the United States and stretches back over 100 years, I grew up never really being conscious of it (likely due to some combination of being a terrible son and having little interest in historical events that didn’t involve swords).
In Japan, though, most people are aware that carnations are a symbol for Mother’s Day, and a bouquet of the flowers is by far the most common gift given on the holiday. But while mothers across the country appreciate the gesture, one survey says there’s something they want even more: electronics.
With Mother’s Day less than a month away (unless you’re outside of Japan and the US, in which case you may have missed it), electronics manufacturer Panasonic recently released the results of a poll it conducted about Mother’s Day gifts. Not surprising for a culture that stresses the importance of familial bonds, 87 percent of the 1,000 adult men and women polled said they plan to give a present to their mom this year,
20 percent of participants will be spending more than they did last year, either as a result of getting a raise or finishing their education and starting their first steady job. On average, they expect to spend 6,795 yen (US$67), although one individual who’s either incredibly generous or mistakenly added an extra zero when filling out the questionnaire is looking to drop a cool million.
▼ “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I got you two Suzuki motorcycles!”
For those planning to give a gift, flowers were the most popular choice, with 37 percent saying Mom is getting a bouquet. At 23 percent, the number two choice was some unspecified kind of food or drink, with clothing and jewelry coming in third with 15 percent. Small personal items such as handkerchiefs or glasses cases came next with 12 percent, and just sneaking into the top five were health and beauty electronics, which accounted for 11 percent of responses.
But while these are the kinds of things children are picking out, what do mothers themselves actually want? To find out, Panasonic asked a group of moms in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and the overwhelming winner, being requested by 78 percent of those polled, was “health and beauty electronics.”
This is sort of unexpected, as a love of gadgets is still something more associated with young men than the women who gave birth to them. On the other hand, it’s hard not to imagine the implicit power of suggestion being in play here, considering the survey was conducted by one of Japan’s largest electronics manufacturers, which is itself in the middle of a multi-year marketing push for its personal wellness and beauty products.
▼ In the same vein, if this dude asked you what you’d like to eat, you’d probably say “sushi.”
That said, our own Japanese-language correspondent Anji says she gave her mother Panasonic’s Leg Reflex massager last year, after several years of happily using the same model herself. “It really helps the swelling in my legs, and I can’t live without it,” she gushes, while also mentioning the unit’s outstanding cost performance (apparently, Anji isn’t the one planning to spend 1,000,000 yen on Mother’s Day this year).
Mothers’ second-most-wanted gift was, predictably, flowers, at 73 percent. Another 67 percent said they’d like some kind of food or drink, 57 percent were hoping for small personal items, and just 11 percent said they be happy with a meal out or trip to a day spa.
▼ By the way, if by “some kind of drink,” you mom actually means, “a large variety of whiskeys,” it’s possible you were a bit of a handful growing up.
A couple of differences jump out between the two gift lists. First is that, despite about one in seven kids planning to give their mothers clothing or jewelry, mothers didn’t show a particularly strong desire for either, at least from their offspring. Second, the figure for the list compiled from the moms’ responses add up to way more than 100 percent, so it looks like some are expecting more than a single present from their offspring.
But it’s really the thought that counts, right? Children certainly seemed to think so. When asked “Why are you going to give a gift?” the near universal response was, “To show my appreciation,” with 98 percent of participants giving that as their reason.
▼ We’ve got no idea what the remaining two percent are up to.
Mothers, for their part, said things such as, “Anything they put some thought into will be fine,” and “I’m just happy to have my children think of me as they choose a present.”
Still, we’d recommend thinking of her as you pick out a leg massager, just to be on the safe side.