If you want to hold a great birthday party then focus on the food, suggests a new study.

This month Kadence International celebrates its 25th birthday and to mark the occasion they undertook a study across 12 markets to explore what are the ingredients of a perfect party. The countries sampled were Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, US and Vietnam; and across all 12, food was the most important aspect when organizing a birthday party, 88 percent of all those surveyed saying it is important.

The study segmented respondents into different party-goer profiles based on what’s important to them at a birthday party (e.g. music or food or location) and what they would most likely be doing at a party (e.g. dancing, or taking selfies, or playing games). Kadence found there were 6 different party-goer profiles: Party Mad; Party Shy; Party Planners; Party Delegators; Party Hard, and Party Socialisers.

The good news is that a birthday party is enjoyed by everyone in the demographic all across the world, gender and age groups. However, it is enjoyed in a different manner and preference. The biggest profile across the study were the Party Mad, who like to not only organize the party but also have fun at it too. However, there were clear differences between countries. Singaporeans are the quieter of the markets covered followed by the UK; both are less likely to recognize themselves as party enthusiast and more likely to be in the Party Shy segment. Singaporeans are also the least likely to find playing games or music important at a party. Rather, a quieter night in is the way to celebrate a birthday with them.

Despite a quieter approach to a birthday party, the UK puts a strong emphasis on getting the music right (73%) compared to the 12-market average (57%). Though food is the most important factor for the UK (84%) – in line with the other markets – drink is a very close second (82%), higher than the majority of the Asian markets. So as you would expect with the fondness towards music and drinks, the UK party goers are more likely to be seen on the dance floor or at the bar, compared to the study average.

Food, drink and guest list are the key elements for Singapore. Whereas, the island nation is less music orientated than the UK. In keeping with their Party Shy profile, Singaporeans shy away from dancing (25% versus 39% average), playing games (38% versus 52% average), or taking selfies (60% versus 70% average).

In contrast to the Party Shy, the Philippines, the US and India are more likely to be Party Mad. Enjoying every and all aspects of a birthday party, from organizing it to making the most of the event itself. However, interestingly the different countries won’t all be mingling together – Filipinos are more likely to be found enjoying the food (95%), whereas the Indians will be on the dance floor (73%). If you’re in the US maybe opt for a cash bar as Americans will be more likely to be making the most of the drinks (76%).

There is a larger geographical trend when it comes to drinking. Western countries – the US (76%) and UK (73%) – place a focus on drinks at a birthday party, significantly higher than the study average (62%). But it is the Taiwanese who are the most drink focused (84%). As might be expected, Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country – places a much lower importance on drinking (45%), as does Japan.

The Japanese, instead, are more likely to fit the Party Planners profile – they are keen to organize the perfect party, but seem to shy away from enjoying the event itself. Being a planner is good news for Japan, as it topped the list of places where people would like to travel for their next birthday celebration.

Beyond the planning, the most important thing to get right for the Japanese is the guest list (79%). And if the Japanese are considering someone to put on the guest list, they would do well to consider attendees from Vietnam, Indonesia or Taiwan. They are all more likely to associate themselves as Party Delegators. They love the birthday party itself, but are not keen on organizing it – quite the opposite to the Japanese. Indonesians put a focus on dancing (46%); whereas the Taiwanese as we have seen will be at the bar enjoying the drinks. Rather than a focus on drinks, the Vietnamese want to capture the moment; they are more likely to be found taking selfies with their friends (86%), well above the industry norm of 70 percent. Taking selfies has a stronger Asian focus overall, with Vietnam (70%), India (87%), Thailand (87%), and Indonesia (87%) all over-indexing here.

The good news is that a birthday party is enjoyed by everyone in the demographic all across the world, gender and age groups. However, it is enjoyed in a different manner and preference.

The fifth segment, Party Socialisers, also has a strong Asian focus – with Malaysia and Thailand both identifying with this segment. Socialisers place an emphasis on enjoying the party with their friends. But, whilst the Thais will be taking selfies (87%), Malaysians will be enjoying the party nibbles and bites (91%).

The final segment are those that like to Party Hard. Where is the market most renowned for its party hard attitude? Hong Kong. These are individuals who put an emphasis on having games at their birthday party, and likely be found on the dance floor.

Following food as the top priority, drinks (79%) and location (70%) were the most important aspects to think about when organizing a party overall. However, this importance changes with age demographics. Younger individuals place a greater focus on games and music when organizing a birthday party – an aspect that fell bottom to the list for older generations. Indeed, those over 45 feel less inclined to celebrate their birthday in general, as they are more likely to be Party Shy. In contrast younger individuals (25 – 35 years old) are more likely to be Party Mad or Party Delegators. They’d be wise to seek out their older peers as those over 45 also identify as Party Planners.

Once at the party, the divide continues with age. Younger individuals are more likely to seek out the dance floor (57%), play games (56%), or take selfies (54%). Whereas only 14% of those 45 or older would think about a selfie, their focus is on the food. Older individuals also place less of an emphasis on drinks (16%) compared to those 35 and under (53%).

There is also a gender difference in drinking – with men slightly more focused on alcohol (53%) compared to women (47%). Women are more likely to be Party Planners compared to men, who are just Party Mad.

Lastly, it is good news if you’re stuck on what to bring as a present – most people wanted cash when we asked what was their ideal birthday gift. Which is probably no bad thing, as big ticket items like a car, watch or smartphone were the next most requested. Rounding off the top 5 was the gift of love from friends, family and loved ones.

There were some interesting differences by market. In the UK the most requested gift was perfume, whereas in the US the much bolder request of a car came out top! In Hong Kong the resounding choice was for a smartphone, however for Singaporeans cash and vouchers is the most sought after present. 

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