How to get a slice of the festive gifting pie

8th Dec 2016

‘Tis the season for gifting, the annual hunt for the perfect gift. It’s big business, with the tills of UK retailers ringing a whopping £24bn over Christmas last year. But the hunt for the perfect gift can be a stressful experience for some shoppers. In fact, a small study from eBay even claims that shoppers can see their heart rates increase as though they’re running a marathon. Little wonder, when nearly 40% of us have replaced or returned an unwanted gift.

So if it’s so stressful, why do we give gifts? Gift-giving helps to define our relationship and strengthen bonds with our family and friends. We feel good about doing it. Gift-giving allows us to demonstrate to our loved ones that we understand them, that we pay attention to them and care about them. Note that these benefits all seem to be aimed at the giver and not the recipient. Even though the concept of gifting seems like an expression of selflessness, it really is the giver who stands to benefit the most.

And that’s exactly what brands should focus on, in the race to attract shoppers during this season. Shoppers want to choose gifts that will positively distinguish them. What will choosing your brand and products deliver for the shopper? How can you make it easy for shoppers to choose you?

Firstly, consider that there are three stages to a shopper’s gift buying journey:

Determining suitable gift options

Finding out where these options are available

Getting the gift ready to be presented

This journey is conducted in a highly fragmented manner. Multiple platforms are used across all three stages to seek inspiration, find comparisons, transact the purchase and organise the fulfilment. A shopper may browse Pinterest for 10 minutes on their morning commute and visit a bricks and mortar store later in the week, before ordering a purchase online from a different retailer and arranging to pick it up in store.

Brands need omnipresence consistency

For brands to cut through, they must ensure that they’re delivering a consistent experience that’s visible in multiple channels for their target audience. Shoppers infer the quality of your products through every single one of your touchpoints. A stunning window display coupled with basic, low-quality pack shots on your website delivers an inconsistent brand message that calls your product quality into question. Luxury brands like Hermes are an example of omnipresence consistency. From their shops and digital presence right through to packaging, the experience is consistent and immersive.

Help shoppers understand the experience they’re gifting

Reassurance of having chosen the right gift for a recipient comes from familiarity with the brand and product experience. If the shopper isn’t familiar with your category or your brand, they won’t be comfortable in choosing you. Brands must therefore bring their brand experience to life for the shopper, so they can understand the experience that they’ll be sharing with the recipient. Lush are the kings of the immersive, multi-sensory shopping experience. Store staff are on hand to do demos and explain how their products work, free wi-fi in-store lets customers access further product information and dive deeper into the brand’s story, while their website provides easy-to-understand, engaging product content alongside all-important customer reviews. 

Don’t forget about the wrapping

The ritual of unwrapping a gift heightens anticipation and makes the gift-receiving experience whole. Completing those finishing touches take up precious time for the shopper, so make it easy for the shopper by having your products ready to gift at point of purchase. Boots offer personalisation features with their engraving stations in store, while Jo Malone is renowned for their beautifully elegant gift packaging.

So, there we are. Through understanding the gift-shopper’s motivations and their needs at each stage of the shopper journey, brands can deliver an experience that surfaces and familiarises their brands with the shopper, making it easy for them to choose you.

Happy gift-hunting!

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