Ten Retail Tactics to Guarantee
Great Holiday "Gifting" Season
by Pam Danziger
As retailers finalize plans for their most important selling season (the
last two months of the year typically generate from 25-40 percent of annual
sales), holiday gift shopping will play an even more important role as retailers
work to make up for the year's weak first and second quarters.
"Convenience is gift shoppers' top priority this year," says Pam Danziger,
president of Unity Marketing and author of Why People Buy Things They Don't
Need (Paramount Market Publishing, 2002). "Shoppers seek special gifts
that are just right for the recipient, but what they want most is to shop
stores that are convenient and make their gift shopping experience quick and
Gift shoppers this year will return to their favorite mass merchants, Target,
or major department stores where they get the widest range of gift choices
at the right price. From her research with highly active gift givers, Danziger
shares strategies for retailers to increase holiday gift sales.
- Focus on enhancing the "gifting" experience, rather than the gift.
The goal of gifting is to emotionally connect the giver with the recipient.
The gift itself is the means to an end, and that end is an emotional connection
between individuals. Gift shoppers will reward retailers that help them
enhance the gifting and gift shopping experience.
- Know why shoppers buy gifts. With connecting the goal, gift-givers
seek gifts that show they know the recipient . After finding the right item,
gifters want quality and craftsmanship, uniqueness, and an item that expresses
their and the receivers' individuality. Giving shoppers a way to customize
gifts, to add a special touch just for the recipient, will be rewarded.
- Convenience is key in shopping. While gifters want a special,
emotionally evocative gift, they won't trudge from store to store to find
it. In choosing a store to buy gifts, they want first and foremost convenience
, so they tend to shop where they shop for themselves and know the layout.
To maximize gift sales, retailers should compile a list of the top gift
ideas for specific relations (e.g. husband, wife, child, coworker) and price
points (e.g. $25 and under; $26-$50; $51-$100; $100+) and post this prominently
at the front counter, the cash registers, on the window, to entice shoppers
in for the most convenient gift shopping experience possible. For those
with room, end cap displays or tables stacked high with gift ideas draw
- Gift certificates are key gifting strategy. Gift cards, rather
than cash, are preferred by gifters because they show the gifter cares enough
to have shopped. Too many stores make their gift certificate or gift card
program an afterthought. This misses a HUGE opportunity to build shopper
loyalty among gift givers and recipients. Increasing sales of gift certificates
should be a cornerstone of a retailer's gifting strategy, since with a gift
card you touch two shoppers, not just one. Gift cards should be appealing
to give and to receive. Generic cards are hardly enticing . Cards should
connect emotionally too, displaying popular themes, such as Harry Potter,
Lord of the Rings, SpongeBob, or other art that the individual will want
to give and receive.
- Gifting goes on all year long. Gift shopping doesn't take place
only in the last two months of the year. Heavy gift buyers, in particular,
are always out and about, grazing for new ideas. They buy and stash away
gifts all year long, so make gifting and gift shopping a key retail focus
throughout the year.
- Put people back into your store. While retailers are working to
remove sales help and make the shopping experience do-it-yourself, gift shoppers
value the personal touch. After all they are looking for an emotional experience
in the gift they choose and the store they shop, and they want knowledgeable,
well-trained sales help to guide them. They also demand that the checkout
process be as convenient as possible. Since everybody else is depersonalizing
shopping, retailers that put the personal back into it will be greatly rewarded.
- Target the gifters' decision process. Gifters have a number of
critical decision points in the gift shopping process. They must select
something that the individual wants within their price range . To help gifters
find the right gift, prepare your staff with a list of open-ended questions
that will help shoppers discover the perfect gift. Make sure sales staff
on the floor know the stock and can intelligently interview shoppers. The
goal of gift retailing is to have the right item, at the right price, for
the right person on the right occasion.
- Have brands and products people want NOW, not tomorrow or yesterday.
Being on trend requires that you keep up with consumer passions and preferences
in key product categories. The Internet can be an effective tool to follow
the latest product fads and fancies. Be on the leading edge in your product
lines and get rid of last year's merchandise if it's still hanging around,
so that when the holiday rush hits, shoppers won't see your store looking
- Presentation matters. In gift giving, presentation counts. To
maximize sales of gifts, make sure you offer expert-quality gift wrap services
with a number of gift wrap options. Gift wrap can even become a new profit
center, if you think in terms of upscale luxury wrap choices. And make sure
your store's name is included somewhere in the gift package, either on the
box, complementary gift card or gift receipt.
- Position your store as a brand where gifters like to shop. Today
branding your store and differentiating it as a good place to shop for gifts
is critical. Make gifting a key feature of your brand by enhancing the shoppers'
gifting experience, e.g. convenient, offering novel gift ideas and gift
presentation options. Understand that gifting is a rare opportunity for
a store to touch two consumer segments - buyer and recipient. Make the most
of that opportunity by building a loyal following among both.
A new research report is available from Unity Marketing summarizing findings
from eight hours of in-depth interviews with shoppers selected for active
gift buying and high levels of spending. Called Gifting: The Dynamics of
the Gift Giving Consumer, this concise 60+ page report covers how shoppers
feel about gift giving and receiving, attributes of a good gift, how they
set a gifting budget, how they select across different categories of products,
where they shop and why traditional specialty gift stores don't meet their
needs. Included are gifters' thoughts on15 major gift categories, such as
candles, baskets, boxes and tins, personalized gifts, licensed merchandise,
tabletop and dinnerware and collectibles and figurines to name a few. This
research is sponsored in part by the gift industry's most forward-thinking
companies, including Department 56, Glass Baron, Lenox, Longaberger, and Walt
Disney, among others.
About Pam Danziger & Unity Marketing
Found in 1992, Unity Marketing (www.unitymarketingonline.com)
is a marketing research and consulting firm that helps companies apply the
concept of emotional marketing to corporate branding and marketing initiatives.
Using its "why people buy" research strategy, Pam Danziger, company founder,
president and author of Why People Buy Things They Don't Need (Ithaca,
NY: Paramount Market Publishing, 2002), uncovers the motivations, desires
and emotional needs that drive consumers to buy. This approach turns consumer
insights into actionable marketing and brand strategies and gives executives
"future vision" to plan the direction of their business. Unity produces market
research studies that are essential business planning tools for executives
competing in the luxury market, jewelry, art, home furnishing, gifts and collectibles,
toys, personal care/cosmetics industries among others. Unity also publishes
the Luxury Business and Gifts & Collectibles Business newsletters. Today Pam
is at work on her next book, Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the
Masses (as well as the Classes).