Gift Giving Benefits Retailers Two Times

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.


Marketing to Women: Is the Lunch Hour Dead?

May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

lunch timeAs 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!





Marketing to Women: Merry Mobile Christmas!

December 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


Deck the halls with boughs of deals as the shoppers start out on their annual shopping sprees.  Some 54% of mobile shoppers who have used a coupon on their device look to retailer websites for mobile coupons.  According to Nielsen’s recent survey, retailer websites are followed by deal-of-the-day websites (such as Groupon and LivingSocial), retailer apps and third party websites.5790_Deal_of_the_Day_Wire_Post_graphic2_D2The smartphones are leading the way in shopping navigation. According to Nielson, smartphone owners are dominating daily deal app usage, exceeding tablet users across all daily deal apps used. Groupon is the most widely used daily deal app among users of the apps, with 91 percent indicating that they have used the app on their smartphone and 60 percent stating they’ve used it on their tablet.  Ranking second in daily deal app usage is Living Social (48% smartphone/29% tablet), followed by Google Offers (18% smartphone/9% tablet).

According to Nielsen, 63% of the smartphone users are using their phones to check prices, compared to 56% of tablet owners.  A little more detail about the habits of smartphone mobile shoppers:   looking up a store, used by 78% in this group, using them for shopping lists (40%), pre-purchase research (63%) and using a mobile coupon (39%).

Santa’s definitely mobile this year.

Read more:

Marketing to Women: The Tablet Shopper

January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

More info on tablet shopping:  During the holidays, 87% of tablet owners (read mostly iPad owners) used their devices to research, browse and buy products.  And they spent an average of $325, according to a new study from e-commerce marketing and merchandising company Zmags and Equation Research.

The report defines the new connected consumer as a woman 40 years old, earning $63,000 a year, who owns several Web-ready devices. She’s all over Facebook, loves to browse catalogs and is oh-so-happy to shop via her devices. 

Retailers will have to learn what device lends itself  to particular purchases.  For instance, in this study on online purchases, tablets were used by more those making electronic or toy purchases, while smartphones are more frequently used for music purchases.  And these connected consumers have no problem with shopping on Facebook.

Check out this infographic on the connected consumer:

Marketing to Women: 3 Reasons Holiday Layaway Is Back

November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

K-Mart made big news during the recession by bringing back layaway for Christmas.  For most people, layaway went away with the emergence of credit cards that allowed you to purchase on impulse without immediate worries about payment.  The recession has made all of our purchases more thoughtful, and many Americans are striving to cut down on debt.

For those of us who remember when your Christmas presents came from the local department store, this old-school concept brings back fond memories.   Memories of Christmas window shopping on Main Street, sitting in Santa’s lap, and our Moms putting special gifts in layaway at the little window at the back of the store.  Back then, credit was not as pervasive, and the options were cash, a store charge or layaway.  Layaway and bank Christmas Clubs went hand in hand back then.  

I was conducting some focus groups with women shoppers recently and heard some of the reasons that layaway is back!

1.  Layaway is a great alternative to managing a budget.  No more January surprises of credit card bills with forgotten charges.  And no finance charges.

2.  Those without credit or maxed-out credit limits can make purchases and not have to pay it off all at once.

3.  It’s also a good way to get a jump on the holiday season and ensure that you get the item your child wants before it is out of stock.

“In the last couple of years it has emerged as a popular spending trend for consumers,” according to a National Retail Federation spokeswoman and reported on CNN “With the change in the economy it is a very viable option for families that want to spread out their spending over the holiday season. Avoiding debt has been a big concern for consumers.”  In fact, last year the number of consumers who planned to purchase holiday gifts with their credit card fell 10%, according to NRF’s holiday consumer intentions and actions survey.

Stores like K-Mart and Sears have added an online layaway this year that allows you to shop online, pay over time and then pick up the merchandise in-store.  This new option has introduced younger consumers to this what’s-old-is-new-again marketing tool.

Kmart says it saw double-digit increases in its layaway customers and sales from 2008 to 2009 after an online/offline campaign to promote layaway—a feature that its big rivals in the value segment, Walmart and Target, discontinued in 2006.

Even more consumers this year are expected to be grappling with paying down credit-card debt or facing sharp cutbacks in their credit limits. So ideas that make paying for holiday gift in cash—like layaway, or like the Christmas savings clubs that Sears and Kmart utilize—may have even greater appeal this year.

Other stores offering layaway this holiday season include T.J. Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls and Toys R Us.



Marketing to Moms: Gift Cards Continue to Be #1

November 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

According to the Deloitte 25th Annual Holiday Survey, gift cards are still the number one gift.  In fact, gift cards have been at the top of the gift list for 7 years.  However, this year, it seems we are only buying 5 gift cards on average, compared with 5.4 in 2009.

Not only does the giver like them.  The gift recipients like gift cards as well.  Some 44% of gift recipients like gift cards better than merchandise, a number that has continue to grow.

Are we lazy in our gift giving?  Or is it the ubiquitous nature of cards that allows us buy gift cards everywhere for just about everything.

Amazon now allows you to give gift cards on Facebook.  All one has to do is login to and more specifically, “Gift Cards” section, where the option to send a gift through Facebook is now featured.  After you decide to give an Amazon gift card, connect to your Facebook account and select the friend you want to give a gift card to from your list of friends.  When your friend accepts your gift, the gift will show up on your friend’s Facebook wall.

To encourage you to try it out, Amazon is even providing a little gift card bonus.  For the first 10,000 people that give an mp3 gift to five of their friends, Amazon will give the purchaser a $5 gift card.

Gift cards are here to stay.  The one-size-fits-all type of gift that never needs to be returned, only used.  And by the way, it doesn’t have to be wrapped either.



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