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Say it with flowers, are you sure? How to get gifting right

Julie Vigne Senior Research Director 07/07/2021

Who doesn’t love a surprise gift for their birthday? Well, quite a few of us, actually. Whilst we may be able to hide our disappointment better than when we were children, 3 in 10 of us are often disappointed by the gifts we receive.

Both gifters and giftees, especially younger ones, would welcome help from brands and retailers to make sure the most perfect gifts end up under the Christmas tree

Over a quarter of us have given away unwanted gifts, either gifting them on or taking them to charity shops. And we’re not even talking about returned gifts and all those languishing unopened at the back of a cupboard.

Yet, that is not due to lack of interest from the gifter. We all want to do well and give our loved ones a gift that will delight them. But it is hard! Almost 6 in 10 state it is really difficult to find the perfect gift and more than half of us worry about getting it wrong.

And this is why, despite everybody preferring to receive or give a surprise present, we tend to play it safe with 6 in 10 preferring to ask the person they’re buying for what they’d like, and 4 in 10 telling people exactly what they’d like to get.

This dynamic between gifter and giftee can be awkward (Do I ask them what they want? Will they think I should know what they want?), but it’s also a difficult challenge for brands and retailers to unpick. And the stakes are high, it is estimated UK adults spend over £600 on Christmas presents alone. Which leaves brands with a conundrum. How to target giftees in the hope they share their preferences or targeting gifters to help them find the perfect gift? And it isn’t just about sales as the impact of a failed gift can also have a negative impact on the brand image.

So what can brands and retailers do?

First it depends on your category. Some gifts, such as chocolate and confectionary, vouchers or alcohol are considered safer categories and gifters might feel more confident to decide by themselves. On the other hand, clothes, handbags, perfumes are considered riskier gift choices which might require more input from the giftees.

But there is maybe something more interesting at play across generations. Although Baby Boomers are big fans of surprise gifts, things seem to be shifting for younger generations. Gen Z in particular are much more open to hedge their bets by telling people exactly what they’d like to get (46%) or sharing a wish list (24%).  This puts the decision firmly back in the hands of the giftees and creates very different purchase journeys and customer experiences for gifters.

Both gifters and giftees, especially younger ones, would welcome help from brands and retailers to make sure the most perfect gifts end up under the Christmas tree, but this can take different forms from enabling the sharing of a wish list, to providing gift selector apps or sending reminders and suggestions for upcoming occasions. So it is all to play for for brands and retailers to increase their share of the market by making sense of the gifting dynamics in their category.

We at Savanta can help you understand the gifter / giftees dynamics to give you the tools to facilitate gifting, from understanding who to talk to when to spark gift ideas, enabling gifters and giftees to share ideas all the way, to ensuring your gift return processes hit the mark, because despite all your best efforts, some shoppers will still get it wrong.

For more information on how we can help understand shopping behaviours, please get in touch

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