Gift Cards Essential to 4Q Retail Marketing Strategies

October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

redGift 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.




Five Things You Need to Know About This Holiday Season

October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

635527976455857363-NAS-DECKHALL-01We 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”

Facebook Wants to Steal TV Dollars with TRP Buying

October 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Facebook-TVThe space between television and online videos is narrowing. Facebook confirmed last week it is launching a new product to let advertisers buy Facebook ads based on Target Rating Points in hopes of getting a larger share of media dollars currently spent on TV.  

 The product named TRP buying is a nod to the time honored way of purchasing media, with target rating points in mind. Facebook has a partnership with Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings division to verify video ad performance in conjunction with TV spots.

The idea is that media planners can build a campaign across TV and Facebook with a TRP target in mind, based on Nielsen verification. The tool will allow TV campaigns to be extended and augmented through Facebook video ads.

And the results should be interesting. The Facebook blog post says that Facebook and Nielsen studied 42 U.S. campaigns and found a 19% increase in targeted reach when Facebook and TV ads were combined versus television along. When they looked just at Millennial consumers, the reach was 37% better.

Facebook also says that Facebook video impressions were two times more likely to hit their target audience than TV impressions. Of course, most of us know that Facebook has quickly become pay-to-play. Not surprisingly, since February, Facebook has seen a 25% growth in ad buyers.

Of course, the majority of consumers being targeted in Facebook are women. This year’s Pew study found online women are more likely than online men to use Facebook and Instagram. Some 77% of online women are Facebook users, compared with two-thirds of online men.

Starting Today, You Will Be Able to Buy on Pinterest

July 1, 2015 § 2 Comments

pinterest-buynow-01-2015Today you start seeing buyable Pins on Pinterest.  According to their blog, when you spot a Pin with a blue price that means you can buy it.  Pinterest is rolling it out to U.S. Pinners on iPhone and iPad, so make sure you have the latest app version.

Buyable pins are simply the way you buy your favorite products on Pinterest.  The pins will be viewable in your Home feed, boards you visit and in search results.  After putting in credit card information, users will get what they purchase delivered to them once they click the buy button.

What makes this so great is that Pinterest users generally have a strong purchase intent.  They are in a planning mode and that might make them closer to a purchase consideration.  They are searching for ideas for a new nursery, a wardrobe or their next party.  So rather than going to a specific merchant, you are going to a bazaar of ideas that leads to a purchase.

Retailers will be in charge of applying the buy buttons so it may take a while for Buyable Pins to be prolific on the site.  Two-thirds of content on Pinterest is pinned by businesses.  Pinterest says within a few weeks there will be 30 million Buyable Pins all over Pinterest, from name brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

Retailers don’t pay for the pins, and Pinterest won’t be currently taking a percentage of purchases. Advertisers will pay to promote the pins as native ads however.  Pinterest did their homework and found users wanted buy buttons.  Almost 90% of pinners have made a purchase because of Pinterest, according to a recent study by market research firm Millward Brown found. With 70 million monthly active users, these Buyable Pins could make Pinterest a major e-commerce player.

Buyable Pins will not be available for Android users or desktop users for a while, but it’s coming.

Marketing to Women: There’s A New Attitude to Age in Fashion Advertising

July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

76e060497e162287b020886ac51d2ef5What happened to fashion’s love affair with youth? Are we finally acknowledging the beauty of older women? There seems to be a new attitude towards style at any age. Cher is the latest in a string of new celebrity endorsers for brands like Marc Jacobs that include interesting older women in their ads like 93-year-old Iris Apfel, 69-year-old Helen Mirren, 65-year-old Jessica Lange, and 63-year-old Angelica Huston. It seems that brands are embracing the buying power of older women.

Kate Spade featured 93-year-old legend Iris Apfel in her recent fashion campaign. Fashion house Celine launched a flare with their Spring 2015 campaign using 80-year old author Joan Didion. Helen Mirren, 69, and Twiggy, 65, are brand ambassadors for L’Oreal. Catherine Deneuve, 71, models for Louis Vuitton, Jessica Lange, 65, for Marc Jacobs and Angelica Huston, 63, for Gap.

Millennials seem to have a fascination not only with vintage clothes but with the older woman and her style. My daughter introduced me to the blog and documentary Advanced Style that has become a bit of a phenom among younger women. The work focuses on sartorially adventurous women who are fashion plates of a certain age.

Why are major brands betting on these faces? There is a universal acknowledgement that wealthier older women are more likely to purchase high-end goods. Just like Baby Boomers have changed culture at every age, they continue to have an impact as they enter their older years. Baby boomers control more than 80% of all financial assets and account for as much as 60% of consumer spending. Brands are embracing the buying power of older women. Consumers of a certain age like to see the “best” of their generation and aspire to look as good as Helen Mirren or Jessica Lange.

The 55+ set have their place in all types of shopping including the television shopping channels.  Iris Apfel has her own line of jewelry on HSN, Iman has her unique fashion line on HSN and Joan Rivers, even after death, continues to have a presence on QVC. Not surprising, HSN reports their average buyer is someone who knows what she wants. A lot of the women who are frequenting these television retailers are professional women, buying while they’re at work, browsing online at the office. QVC and HSN shoppers are more affluent consumers, and they are also repeat buyers. Most of them buy about ten times a year, so they’re loyal.   Our postman told my husband that once a QVC package lands on a doorstep, there are many to follow.

While brands may not exclusively rely on older style mavens, some reported they are instituting a multi-generational approach, while they also embrace a multi-size approach.

Age seems to be relative these days.  It’s more about how we feel than our chronological age. Maybe we are now accepting age as a sign of confidence and self-assuredness. It is a good thing to have matured into an interesting and beautiful being.

Working Moms Raise Successful Daughters and Caring Sons

July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

29F5D60900000578-3138860-image-a-35_1435227167886A new Harvard Business School study should eliminate “working mom guilt”.  Moms who work outside the home may be doing something really positive for their children.  And that’s a good thing since nearly three-quarters of American mothers with children at home are employed.

The study reports daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions, and earn more money than daughters of non-employed moms.  In the United States, daughters of working moms earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.

The working paper (pdf) published June 19 by the Harvard Business School also found that working moms also had a statistically significant effect on their sons.  The sons are more likely to spend time caring for family members and doing household chores than are sons of stay-at-home moms.  In fact, the sons here in the U.S. spent seven and a half more hours a week on child care and 25 minutes more on homework.   The study did not show an influence on the careers of sons because there has always been an expectation for men to work outside the home.

We working moms seem to impart different attitudes towards gender roles to our children which have an impact on their attitudes towards work and home life.  The researchers found that 33% of daughters of working mothers held supervisory roles, compared to only 25% of daughters of stay-at-home moms.

While the mommy wars may continue on some level, it is clear that having a working mothers has economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes.

Ten New Trends for Women Travelers

March 10, 2015 § 3 Comments

phyllis photo correctWomen are traveling more than they have ever before.  Travel experts think that women represent the most important and fastest growing segment of the travel market, in terms of both leisure and business travel.

Phyllis Stoller is truly an expert on women travelers.  As head of The Women’s Travel Group since 1992, she is on the front line of travel trends and shares her Top Ten 2015 observations with us.  She says that women continue to lead in researching their trips, are seeking more exotic destinations, and are more interested in a healthy diet while traveling.  Understanding these trends is important to marketing to women travelers.

Here are her top ten new trends:

  1. Live for today spending. Overall, a carpe diem mentality is surpassing budget concerns. Maybe it is the economy or maybe single women are finally more affluent. A recent article in the NY Times examined the lifestyle of a healthcare employee, concluding that her higher-per-hour salary put her in a strong financial position for increased spending. And we are seeing these more affluent women traveling.   These women are in a professional position that allows for more discretionary spending.
  2. Women are requesting specific experiences. Online review sites are helping define and prioritize what women will do with their time on a trip, even where they will shop.  I have seen actual shopping lists with specific names of oversea stores. Online reviews encourage list making. We observe women listing specific places they want to visit on an itinerary, rather than stating just a destination like Tuscany.
  3. We still see unusual trips selling out fastest. The idea of leaving ‘your comfort zone’ has leaked into travel. A frisson, even a little scary, is a draw for many women. Women are seeking unusual and new destinations while men are more satisfied with more predictable golf resort destinations. Women are also looking for more intellectual stimulation and experience in their travel; 75% of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women.
  4. Healthy diet on the road is increasingly important. As regional cuisine has become more sophisticated throughout the US, fine dining overseas is less of a priority, unless it comes with an experience (famous farm meal, known winery,  cooking demo).
  5. Hotel amenities become part of the travel experience. Along with the more liberal spending for travel, we notice women are again using hotel amenities like spa services. Their enjoyment of travel extends beyond the last tour, as women pack use of the hotel into each day. Today’s working women seek quality hotels and services equivalent or better than their business travel standards.
  6. Smartphones are the new travel accessory. Everyone has a smart phone.  Older women will actually get their smart phone before a trip as part of their travel gear. Wifi is the new umbilical cord for many. Entering a lovely hotel with wifi, women will look at their phones before admiring the lobby.
  7. Solo travelers still penalized. The single supplement is still an issue regarding cost and availability. Women are frequently penalized with a premium applied by some travel companies for traveling alone. Sharing is an option many still choose. But with a stronger economy, the single cost is slightly less formidable this year.
  8. Frequent flyer consultants needed. Frequent flyer mile accumulation continues to bother women; part of our job today is to help with creative uses of frequent flyer miles. Tour operators need to be frequent flyer consultants or lose passengers’ attention.
  9. No age limit for traveling. We see women 80+ still happy to travel and not just on cruises. As an FYI, three women of this age group went to India with us October 2014 along with other women aged 40+.
  10. Airline upgrades are more frequent among women. Maybe the upgrades are a sign of the economy or extra frequent flyer miles. But the upgrades are also a trend of not being afraid to spend money on one’s self.

Read more trends about marketing travel to women here.


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