Confused about the Gifting Market? Is It Up, Down or Going Sideways?
Unity Marketing plans to launch a new study of the gifting market early in 2012 to give marketers the facts and figures
The Christmas gift shopping season is nearly over, but it seems like the pundits and industry watchers haven't got a clue about what the gift giving consumers are really up to. Take Black Friday sales for example. While some industry experts gleefully put sales on this much-examined retail day several percentage points ahead of last year, others quickly pointed out that any increase in revenues was likely due to the practices of opening store doors as early as Thanksgiving night, effectively tacking another six or eight hours of sales time onto Black Friday.
And just yesterday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) revised its forecast upward from their previously bullish pre-Thanksgiving estimates. But on the same day, the New York Times featured a story that said stores sales are lagging after Thanksgiving. As a result, they are taking drastic steps, including deep discounts, staying open late, and extending specials, to entice shoppers into the stores before Christmas.
Not only that, the New York Times article also reports that troubled retailers plan to manipulate the way they account for holiday gift sales this year to get a more favorable report from the actual year-over-year comparables. In other words, if the real data doesn't tell the story they want to tell their shareholders, they are going to 'cook the books' in order to do so.
Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury, calls for marketers to take reality-based look at the mindset and purchase behavior of gift customers in order to really grow a profitable gift business. "For this holiday shopping season, it ain't over till it's over, but I for one don't believe for a minute that shoppers are going to pull off a big sales gain for retailers -- not when half of all Americans are living at or near poverty, as reported by the Census Department yesterday. Business success is not about juggling numbers to get a favorable balance sheet or to demonstrate non-existent growth over last year," Danziger says.
"Rather, successful gift businesses are the ones that take the time to understand their customer, become responsive to their customer's needs, and develop a relationship that will persist over time. What is more important: figuring out a way to demonstrate Christmas holiday season growth at all costs, or developing a base of customers who will return to buy gifts for Mother's Day, graduation, weddings, and birthdays throughout the year?"
Danziger continues, "For true success next year, marketers need real information about the gifting needs of their customers in order to grow their market share. They need to understand what draws them to a particular item to gift or store to shop for gifts. These insights will help them create more effective and profitable marketing communications for next year, besides putting everything in the store on sale. Unity Marketing plans to launch a new study of the gifting market early in 2012 to give marketers the facts and figures -- the real data -- about the gift market."
Sponsors Needed for a New Study of Gifts and Gift Giving Market
Unity Marketing to launch a new study of the gift-purchasing and gift-giving behavior of middle-and high-income consumers.
Since 2007, before the recesion, Unity Marketing has tracked the behavior of the gift-buying consumer, providing the latest intelligence on who buys gifts; what holidays and occasions spark gift-giving; what makes consumers buy gifts; and the psychographic segmentation of the gifting market.
Today, as the economy teeters uncertainly between recovery and double-dip recession, marketers need the data and analysis that helps them target consumers as they purchase gifts throughout the coming year. By understanding not only the "who" of the gifting market but also the all-important "why they buy," marketers are poised to be competitive regardless of economic climate.
Unity Marketing plans a new study of the gifting market that will answer:
- How the recession and recovery has changed the behavior of the gift-buying shopper?
- What role social media plays in the gifts people select and the way they shop for gifts?
- How shopping for gifts over the internet differs -- or is the same -- as gift shopping in stores?
- How retailers can maximize the gift shopping experience not just during the fourth quarter, but throughout the year?
- How internet retailers can participate more actively in the gift market?
Gifting is not just for the end-of-year holidays -- Prepare to target your prime gifting consumers throughout 2012
Unity Marketing, a consumer insights firm that has been on the forefront of research of the gift market, announces plans for a new study of the gifting consumer. Slated to launch after Christmas 2011, the study of approximately 1,500 consumers will capture their most recent holiday gifting behavior, as well as their expectations about future purchases extending into 2012. This report will compare current buyer behavior to that discovered in 2006 and 2009.
Sponsors Are Needed for the New Gift Consumer Survey
In order to make the research both relevant and actionable for marketers and retailers that compete in the gift giving market, Unity Marketing invites a select group of companies to sponsor the research efforts.
The research sponsors will gain new understanding about the mindset of the gift consumer, including the gifts they buy for both holidays and other gift giving occasions, how they make their gift selections and their gift shopping experiences. The research will focus specifically on the needs, desires and passions of the gift consumers, as well as those customers who enjoy shopping for gifts.
You are invited to join this important research initiative as a sponsor to guide and direct the research. As a sponsor you will have input into the survey questionnaire, receive early survey results, have your company's brand and key competitor brands included in the survey, and receive the final analysis report with all the latest data and consumer insights.
Sponsors will also be afforded the opportunity to add exclusive questions to the survey. They will get the results of the research first in order to implement competitive marketing strategies ahead of the rest. Best of all, the costs of research are shared so sponsors gain many of the benefits of a custom research study at less than one-tenth of the cost.
Details of the Planned Research Study
Any company involved in the market for gifts will benefit from this research. That includes national retailers, as well as manufacturers and marketers that position their products as gifts, specialty gift retailers, internet and direct marketers that want to expand their opportunities in the gift market, and advertising agencies and sales representative firms that support gift marketers and retailers. Any company involved in the market for gifts will benefit from the new insights in this study.
- Gifting behavior by holiday and occasion: Discover key characteristics of the gifting market, such as on what holidays and occasions consumers buy gifts, how many people they buy gifts for and how much they spend. The survey will also reveal what range of products people choose for gifts, what drives their selection of particular gifts and what drives their selection of stores to shop for gifts.
- Demographics of the gifting market: How many households buy gifts, what types of gifts do they buy, how much they spend, where they shop for specific types of gifts and what are the different demographic segments within the gifts market (e.g. HHI, age, size, composition, education, etc.)
- Gifts market buying behavior: What are the primary characteristics of the consumers' buying behavior related to different gifts? What makes a good gift? What attributes and qualities make gifters want to buy? Where do they shop for these items; how do they decide to purchase one item over another? What is the role of brand in gifting buying behavior? What is the purchase incidence and spending on key categories of gifts?
- Psychographic profile and segmentation of the gifting market: The psychographic profile of gift consumers reveals their different drives and motivations in purchasing gifts. What factors are more or less important in driving gift purchasing decisions? How can gifts marketers and retailers better understand the hearts and minds of their consumers and use that insight to capture a greater share of the consumers' gifting budget? In essence we reveal "why people buy gifts."
Trends in Sales of Over 60 Specific Gift Products Will Be Studied
Over 60 specific categories of gift items within nine major categories of goods and services will be studied with the results compared to previous studies to allow for trend analysis. The major categories of gifts will include:
- Consumables (such as food, candy, wine, gift baskets, etc.)
- Clothing and/or fashion accessories (such as handbags, shoes, wallets, etc.)
- Jewelry and/or watches
- Personal care products (such as cosmetics, perfumes, bath products, etc.)
- Home furnishings and household operations products (such as home furnishings, decorative accents, housewares, home textiles, china, glass and tableware, small household appliances)
- Giftables (such as flowers, candles, figurines, collectibles, greeting cards, stationery, crafting kits and supplies, seasonal decorations, gifts for pets and/or other popular gift-type items)
- Entertainment and/or recreation goods (such as books, toys, sporting goods, video/audio, DVDs and entertainment equipment, photographic equipment, computers, games, etc.)
- Gift Cards, store gift certificate and/or gift of cash
- Gifts of experience (such as spa treatments, dining and restaurants, vacations, trips, travel, special events, etc. which are often presented as a gift card or gift certificate)
Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007 by Harper's Bazaar.
Pam gives luxury marketers "All Access" to the mind of the luxury consumer. She uses qualitative and quantitative market research to learn about their brand preferences, shopping habits, and attitudes about their luxury lifestyles, then turns these insights into actionable strategies for marketers to use to reach these high spending consumers. Unity Marketing is the voice of the luxury consumer for such clients as PPR, Diageo, Tempur-Pedic, Google, Swarovski, Constellation Wines, Luxottica, Orient-Express Hotels, Italian Trade Commission, Marie Claire magazine, The World Gold Council, and The Conference Board.
Pam's latest book is Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How new consumer values are redefining the way we market luxury (Paramount Market Publishing, 2011). Her other books include Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, published by Kaplan Publishing in October 2006; Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses˜as well as the Classes, (Dearborn Trade Publishing, $27, hardcover) and Why People Buy Things They Don't Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior(Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004).