This week, most countries around the world celebrated Mother’s Day, the traditional day of appreciation for moms (and mums). Like many holidays, such as Valentine's Day and Christmas, Mother’s Day has turned into a highly commercialized celebration, a busy time for retailers of flowers, chocolates, and of course, jewelry. In fact, this year, the forecast for Mother’s Day spending in the US reached over $23 billion, of which $4.6 billion will be spent on jewelry gifts.
But how did Mother’s Day, come about, and how is the jewelry market really faring on this traditional holiday as we enter a new era of retail technology?
How Mother’s Day Began - Not with Diamonds and Roses
In 1868, Anne Jarvis of Western Virginia, a social activist and devout Christian, created a mother’s committee with the aim of reuniting families after the Civil War. She had previously established other groups, such as the Mother’s Working Group, and hoped to consolidate all these efforts into a special annual celebration of mothers. After her passing in 1905, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, picked up where she left off, and founded an annual mother’s day of worship at her church. Over the next few years, the custom became widely popular in New York, Jarvis continued campaigning to have the day recognized as an official holiday, and in 1914, Congress finally declared that the second Sunday in May would be Mother’s Day in the US. Jarvis originally envisioned that Mother’s Day would be a day of appreciation, with the giving of hand written notes of love and gratitude for mothers. However, just a few years after becoming an official celebration, Mother’s Day began to be commercialized, and Jarvis was adamantly opposed to this trend. In 1948, she was arrested at a protest against the commercialization of Mother’s Day. And the biggest irony? Anna Jarvis - the woman who invented Mother’s Day now celebrated by billions of people around the world - had no children of her own.
Brunches, Brands and Big Business
The extreme commercialization of Mother’s Day, while not the intention of the founder of the holiday, is definitely here to stay. Mother’s Day is big business for many retailers and service providers.
According to a survey by Retail Customer Experience, 55% of Mother’s Day shoppers will spend $4.4 billion on dining, which makes the food industry the big winner of the day. For some restaurants, there’s even an increase in revenue of as much as 25% on Mother’s Day.
69% of shoppers plan to buy flowers, 45% of shoppers will purchase gift cards, 34% will go to jewelry gifts, and 24% will splurge mom with a personal experience, such as a day at the spa or leisure outing. Younger shoppers will be making more purchases online, naturally, while the 35-44 age group will be the highest spenders - which makes sense, having arrived at a stage in life when there is generally more disposable income.
We’ve discussed before the reasons why people buy diamonds, and seasonal celebrations are certainly one of them. Mother’s Day, while not hitting the levels of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, is a potential high-profit day for diamond and jewelry retailers.
What Do Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day?
Now that we’ve reviewed what gifts people are buying, it’s time to ask what moms really want for Mother’s Day. According to one survey, it’s not flowers, chocolates or jewelry. What 35% of mothers actually want is a break- some free time just for themselves - while another 26% just want a good night’s sleep. Only 5% want to receive a physical gift.
While most mothers can attest to desperately needing some ‘me’ time, that doesn’t mean that they’re not delighted to receive a piece of jewelry, or a decorative item for the home, or even a designer outfit. Check out the Mother’s Day gift selections of this glamorous group of moms - many of them indeed opt for jewelry.
In 2018, Mother’s Day spending was projected to be less than last year, including a nearly 10% drop in jewelry sales. It will take some time for the official spending numbers to come in, but in the meantime, we're wondering: Could it be that more mothers are indeed receiving the gift they really want - and which doesn’t cost any money?
Mother’s Day Moves Online - and Gets Personal
As more and more shopping happens online, Mother’s Day gift purchases are also predicted to increase online. According to research, 7 to 8% of luxury gift purchases for Mother’s Day last year were made on tablet devices. In particular, there is a predicted rise in Mother’s Day purchases on mobile, with 40% forecast increase in conversions and 70% increase in revenue.
The increase in online mobile purchases may be driven by digital advertising that is constantly improving in terms of audience targeting. When searching online, enhanced audience targeting technologies mean that potential customers are served more personalized ads that are closely aligned to their search preferences. This makes the browsing and purchase process easier for the buyer of the gift, which means that they are more likely than ever to find and purchase the right gift, straight from their mobile phone.
Mother’s Day is already very far away from what Anna Jarvis imagined over a century ago. And with the rise and rise of mobile internet shopping, the gap will only continue to widen.