May 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
Gift giving is an important part of retail sales. It also represents an emotional bond made between the giver and the recipient. Retailers should recognize the dual rewards in growing their gifting business because you are touching two targeted consumers at the same time – the purchaser and the recipient. Gift giving strategy can provide exponential results for marketers if done correctly.
Unity Marketing estimates that $1 out every $10 spent in the typical retail store, (general merchandise, apparel, furnishings and others) is spent to buy a gift. Gifts represent approximately $128 billion in spending in 2017. Consumers are typically buying a gift every one to two months.
So what’s behind the science of giving? The act of gifting is typically meant to communicate feelings for and with another, fostering stronger social relationships. New research by the Wharton School looked at what type of gifts build deeper personal relationships, a material gift or an experiential gift.
Experiential gifts win over material gifts
Despite gift givers’ tendencies to give material possessions, material gifts do less to foster meaningful relationships between gift givers and gift recipients. The researchers report, “Experiential gifts, in contrast, make recipients feel closer to the person who gave them the gift, regardless of whether the experience is consumed together with the gift giver. Experiential gifts have this effect because of the emotion they evoke when consumed, particularly when the emotion is shared.”
“Our findings demonstrate that giving experiential gifts is more effective at fostering closer relationships, and therefore implies that gift givers should feel happier as a result of giving an experiential gift compared to a material gift,”
What are experiential gifts? An experience could be providing services like a meal, spa outing, horseback riding, or vacation. But don’t dismay – material gifts can offer experiential aspects – candles, music, books, toys, food and drink items and even things that are nice to the touch – a furry throw, a cashmere pillow or silk pajamas.
Even the actual event of purchasing the gift can be experiential in a story setting or online by telling a story, allowing for touch and feel, and conjuring up warm feelings.
October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Gift cards have topped the list of most requested gifts for the last eight years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that one out of three gifts is a gift card. Retailers should make gift card sales an important part of their 4Q sales strategy. Fourth quarter sales of gift cards can contribute to strong sales during January.
“It varies based on the business you’re in, but it is not unusual for as much 50 percent of some retailers’ business in the fourth quarter to come from gift cards,” says Ben Kaplan, president and CEO of digital gifting and incentive platform CashStar.
And some retailers are finding that gift cards are a better way to promote their products than the typical discounts. Discounts can have a negative perception. Customers might think “that you are just trying to move product. If you give a gift card instead of a discount, you’re sending a more positive perception of your product to customers.
Gift Card Buyer Segments
In a recent Blackhawk study of gift card buyers, 63% of respondents had purchased at least one gift card in the last year and 94% stated they would be likely to purchase a gift card in the next year.
So it should be no surprise that birthdays (70%) and winter holidays (64%) were the most popular occasions to buy gift cards.
The study segmented gift card buyers into four groups: It’s a Busy Life (33%), Budgeting for a Practical Gift (23%), The Meaningful Gift (22%) and It’s All About the Gift (21%). Marketers can use this information for gift card planning.
It’s All About the Gift. This is a group that loves to give and receive gift cards. Gift cards are their gift of choice. Although they give slightly less than the average amount of gift cards per year, they spend more on individual gift cards. These buyers purchase more restaurant, mass merchandiser, department store gift cards and open loop gift cards than other groups. They buy gift cards in more channels (than other groups) as they tend to buy gifts while doing other shopping. When redeeming gift cards, most spend more than the value of the gift card. This group is approximately 61% female and has a higher percentage of married people. They tend to be more middle aged.
It’s a Busy Life. This group buys gift cards for convenience. They are time strapped and buy out of necessity, rather than affinity. Overall, they tend to buy more than the average number of gift cards per year (8.7) and buy them more often for more occasions—for almost all occasions more than any other group. Because of convenience needs, this buyer tends to buy e-gift cards (47%) and they prefer to shop online or on their phone or tablet. There is a higher percentage of males in this group. They tend to have higher income, be employed full time and the group is more ethnically diverse.
A Meaningful Gift. This cluster of givers want to make people happy. They focus their gifting choices on gifts that have emotional meaning. Eighty-one percent want to give gifts that have an emotional meaning. In the past, gift cards tended to be viewed as impersonal or the lazy person’s gift. However, this viewpoint has changed, mainly because of public opinion. People have begun to realize that people prefer them to physical gifts. Gift cards are the most requested gift and people prefer them.
Budgeting for the Practical Gift. This is a fairly new segment. This group focuses on saving money. Buying gift cards help them budget their gift spending. This group is the most price conscious of all of the clusters. They tend to use coupons and look for promotions. Interestingly, this group uses gift cards as the highest percentage of all their gifts and they do that because they think gift cards are such practical gifts. They tend to give fewer gifts than the other groups and prefer to give a gift that is useful. They spend less on individual gift cards and tend to buy gift cards in mass merchandisers and in the grocery channel (already shopping there.) Of all the clusters, the consumers in this group buy the most for self-use. Birthdays and winter holidays are the most popular occasions for purchase. They tend to buy more restaurant and mass merchandiser gift cards. Only one-third purchase online. This cluster is about two-thirds female and contains more single moms. Overall they have a lower household income level and tend to have less education.
October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
We haven’t heard Brenda Lee singing Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree yet, but holiday shopping has already begun. Around 32 million Americans –- or 14% of consumers -– have started their holiday shopping. Or should we say 32 million women have started their shopping?
Google has identified five holiday shopping trends we need to watch this year, based on last year’s behavior.
- This will be the most connected holiday shopping season ever. Forty percent of holiday shopping occurred online last year and this year will be bigger. We rely more on the internet for holiday research than we do friends and family.
- Mobile will continue to influence more sales. Nearly 28% of all retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches. Fifty-three percent of those who shopped online used mobile smartphones and tablets to make purchases.
- Early shopping will take away some of the clout of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some 48% of holiday shoppers say they did the majority of their shopping on or before Cyber Monday, up from 40% in 2013.
- Consumers more open to new stores and brands for holiday shopping.More than half of shoppers were open to buying from a new retailer and 41% actually made purchases at new retailer.
- Holiday shoppers turn to peer review on You Tube. Of people who watched online videos to help with holiday shopping, 68% preferred product videos from “people like me.”
December 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Shopping local is more than a trend. It is growing for several reasons. Shopping local is good for business, good for the environment and good for our desire to find one-of-a-kind, meaningful products.
Good for Business
Local shopping is not insignificant. In a world of online shopping and big box retailers, the 23 million independent stores in America account for 54 percent of sales. These independent stores provide 55 percent of jobs, and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
One study says that local business generates 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. Keeping dollars in the local economy has been the rally cry for small business. My friend Linda Berry, owner of fine linen store Bella Linea in Nashville, Tennessee, recently shared some of the facts with her customers to reinforce the importance of keeping dollars in her community. She shared statistics showing that for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13 per $100 spent at a big box and almost zero for online shopping.
A movement around Shopping Local has begun. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to visit small businesses in their community as part of the after Thanksgiving shopping. This year shopping local has grown double digits. A report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express – the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey – revealed that 88 million consumers “shopped small” this year, up 14.9 percent from just a year ago.
Good for Our Need for One-of-A-Kind Finds and One-of-A-Kind Experiences
Many retailers like Linda Berry also talk about the importance of meeting needs for today’s shoppers. Linda spends time traveling to find and create one-of-kind products that her customers can’t find anywhere else. Services like free designer consultation and free gift wrapping make small businesses like Bella Linea stand out among the mass marketers.
Trends like eating local and the Maker Movement also continue to provide unique goods and experiences that meet the desires of today’s consumer. The Maker Movement really captures the group of people creating individually made pieces for the home, small-batch food products, hand-knit, handmade and hand crafted items that can’t be mass produced.
Food has gone local with independent restaurants, local food purveyors, handmade food products and farmers markets proliferating. Beyond the food, food experiences have become custom as well. There are food tours, hands-on cooking lessons and small batch wine classes.
Good for the Environment
And, surprisingly, shopping local is also good for the environment. Shopping locally helps cut down on processing, packaging and transportation waste, leading to less pollution and less fuel consumption.
So, with just a few days of the shopping season left, visit a local store and make a difference in your community.
October 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
The 2014 holiday shopping season will be a tipping point for online shopping. A PwC report finds that 41% of shoppers plan to spend more online this year than they did last year. In fact, more than two-thirds of today’s shoppers are omnichannel, easily shifting between their mobile technology and physical stores. There are conflicting reports on the size of this year’s holiday spending. The National Retail Federation is calling for holiday sales to rise 4.1%, the largest jump in three years. Online sales are expected to grow between 8-11%. PwC is not so optimistic, calling for an actual decrease in spending.
While you may think millennials are doing a lot of this online shopping, think again. Millennials only represent 18% of planned spending. It’s GenX and Boomer shoppers who will be leading the charge.
Estimates point to 43% of all spending will be online with 40% of consumers falling into a category called trade-off shoppers. Trade-off shoppers will do most of their research online and will buy online if the product is cheaper than in stores; another 32% are considered primary online shoppers; and 29% of shoppers will prefer going to the stores, after a little online browsing. Actual spending in-store will decrease from 55% in 2013 to 50% this year, but the individuals shopping in-store are likely to spend more. One important consideration is the whopping 15+ hours shoppers spend online researching purchases. Consider what that means for product descriptions, photography and selection.
Four Waves of Spending
The coming holiday season will have only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, just one more than last year and five fewer than 2012. That is important for all retailers as the compare same store sales. Black Friday is the #1 in-store shopping day during the holiday season. The next most important dates, according to a 2013 MasterCard SpendingPulse report, are December 21 and 23. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most popular days for online shopping, and Fridays and Saturdays are the top days overall for in-store holiday shopping. There are four distinct time periods for spending this year – Pre-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Mid-Holiday, and Post-Holiday. Early shopping represents 21% of all holiday spending. The week of Black Friday will represent 21% of spending. Mid-Holiday is the traditional December shopping period where 50% of spending happens, with much of it in the last ten days before Christmas. And those bargain shoppers are 8% of the shopping dollars.
What Do People Want for the Holidays?
According to the National Retail Federation, for the eighth year in a row, gift cards will be the most requested gift item for the holidays. Sixty-two percent say they would like to receive a gift card, followed by clothing (52.5%), books, CDs, DVDs or video games (43.1%), and electronics (34.6%). And one-quarter (24.8%) would like to receive jewelry.
How to Be Prepared This Season
There are some important ways you can help this season’s shoppers.
1. Embrace online connectivity. Online experience means both your online presence but your connectedness in-store. Make sure Wi-Fi is available and sales staff are available with mobile devices to check out your customers. Make sure your cybersecurity is up-to-date. And make sure your online shopping is easy to navigate, informative and provides simple check-out. One-quarter of shoppers say easy-to-use mobile websites is an important factor in their decision to shop with a specific retailer, and 40% of Black Friday online shopping was mobile. And don’t forget free shipping. It is more important than the delivery date.
2. Create a differentiated in-store experience. Make sure your store personnel are knowledgeable, your merchandise is in-stock and easy to shop, the atmosphere is festive friendly, and your merchandising is distinctive and memorable. Think about personalization and special add-on services that simplify the gifting experience.
3. Make sure your offerings represent value. Shoppers still have a deal mindset based on best prices and seasonal deals, so your innovation, unique selections, bundling and convenient shopping experience will be important to take you from a commodity purchase to a brand purchase. Special deals will continue to be important to drive shoppers to your store. Reward your best customers with special perks for shopping with you.
4. Provide messaging consistent with your brand. A consistent promotional look and feel that reflects your brand is important in creating greater impact with your customer.
May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
As I was munching on my McDonald’s salad at my desk today, I started wondering about the fate of lunch in America. I certainly don’t seem to break for lunch as often as I used to. In fact, the phrase lunch hour is even misleading. In a recent study , 48% of employees say that the typical lunch break is 30 minutes or less. And in another study by Staples, 19% of employees say they don’t stop for lunch at all. In 2010, Monster found that more than 20 percent of workers say they always eat lunch at their desks.
The lunch “break” has turned into a time for errands, online shopping, more work and maybe a quick bite. Here are some of the reasons behind these trends.
• The recession spawned a cutback in personal and business spending. And currently the IRS only allows 50% of entertainment expenses. With a focus on productivity, some employees feel pressure to work more and don’t feel they have time for lunch.
• Working women have a lot of tasks to accomplish. Any given day may include errands, online shopping, haircuts and a quick bite. Working moms are 13% more likely to have spent $2500+ on internet purchases, 10% more likely to do their banking online and they own almost every mobile device technology that allows them to shop.
• Lunch hour shopping trends show 84% of moms shop 15 minutes or more a day at work. And most of that shopping happens between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some 43% of female workers say they did their holiday shopping online while at work, compared to only 35% of male workers. Not surprisingly, 21% of back to school shopping happens online. Woman shoppers use the time as a welcome break from their office routine and would rather shop online than go to a mall.
Some categories have benefitted from this trend. Certainly online shopping of all kinds has prospered. Retailers see rising traffic during the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. period and some are creating two-hour “stop, drop and shop” promotions during that lunch window. Grocery stores have embraced the trend with more “grab and go” lunch foods. According to market researcher NPD Group, grocers have seen their lunchtime purchases of prepared food like sandwiches and salads jump by 28% since 2008. And fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle provide high quality food options with a lower time commitment. There is also a trend to wanting snacks at all times to tide workers over to dinner time.
In the world of advertising and marketing, the three martini lunches were legend. Gerald Ford said, “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?” While some still remember those long lost “Mad Men” three martini lunches fondly, in retrospect, they seem indulgent and luxurious. Time might have been the true luxury. Maybe those lunches were not very productive, but they did provide opportunity for marketers and clients to know each other better. Maybe we have traded the martini for the macchiato, but that coffee with a client might be a great time to really talk, listen to each other and share ideas freely. Cheers!
December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Who knew? It seems that the first New Year’s was first celebrated about 4,000 years ago as an 11-day festival in Ancient Babylon. It turns out that the Babylonians are not just responsible for the celebration itself, but also one of its most popular traditions: The New Year’s Resolution. So, what was the most common resolution back then? Well, it wasn’t to lose weight or quit smoking. Nope, year after year the Babylonians promised to return borrowed farming equipment.
The Babylonians didn’t have the Roman calendar so they actually celebrated in the spring. It was Julius Caesar who made January the first month of the year. He named the month for the Roman god of doors and gates (or entrances and exits) Janus. Janus was often portrayed with two heads, one looking forward and one backwards, which Caesar thought was appropriate for looking back and forward.
Toasting also goes back to ancient history. Ulysses drank to the health of Achilles in The Odyssey. In Rome, drinking to someone’s health was so important that the Senate demanded that all diners drink to their emperor, Augustus, before every meal. The word toast came about because in the 17th century, it was common to plop a little toast or crouton in your drink as a snack. For your toasts tonight, just remember what W. C. Fields said: “I never worry about being driven to drink; I just worry about being driven home.”
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkenss of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.