Beyond the Red Bow: Gift Trends for Brands

‘Tis the season for brands to think of dynamic strategies that capture the festive spirit and drive sales. Shifting personal values, however, have changed the gifting landscape, forcing brands to look beyond traditions to fully leverage the season of giving. Along with its challenges, this evolution also brings great opportunities for brands to create deeper connections with their consumers that are full of meaning and last all year long.

Overwhelmed by marketing messages, modern consumers are rejecting materialism. Instead of things, they are looking for experiences. When they give a gift, they are more concerned about the emotion they inspire, the anticipation they create and the journey they take in selecting the perfect present. 

It’s the way it makes you feel

Despite our digital lives putting us in constant contact with each other, people are feeling disconnected. This constant interfacing with cold, emotionless devices is driving a demand for emotionally rich experiences. For the digitally dispirited consumer, strengthening bonds with people they love is crucial. They give gifts not to impress, but to express their feelings. 

This focus on substance over possessions, along with this need for deeper emotional meaning, has resulted in a demand for brands to deliver beyond the tangible, end result. The challenge is to create a meaningful experience that both the giver and the recipient can enjoy. 

Instead of choosing a product by conventional means, the Dept. Store of the Mind offers a list of products to suit every mood. This provides a self-reflective shopping experience which extends to an exercise in empathy when buying gifts. 

Finding the perfect gift

The journey and not the destination is becoming increasingly important for consumers, with some brands making the choosing of a product or service the key element of the process – the end result is merely the pinnacle of an elaborate and multi-sensory journey. 

As consumers look for gifts that have greater sense of novelty and talk-value, gifting that requires people to go on a journey and ‘locate’ becomes more common and adventurous. 

Take Lush’s London Oxford Street flagship. This is a wonderland of tactility and scent sensation including an interactive zone where visitors explore their senses and get inspired. Here selecting the perfect gift is no longer a chore, but rather a memorable and unique experience that injects more meaning into the gift itself.

New reasons to celebrate

In an increasingly globalised context, themes of nationality, local traditions and holiday occasions are becoming fluid and fragmented making consumers look beyond conventions to assert who they are. Sharp brands are showing awareness of cultural nuances and responding to this need with symbolism and reference from local traditions and global holiday occasions.   

Tapping the Islamic festival period of Ramadan and Eid, The Body Shop has a new range of exclusive limited-edition packaging gifts. The sample-sized products can be accessed each day following the traditional Christmas advent calendar model. 

Beyond the Red Bow

Gifting continues to become more nuanced than ever as well as more intrinsically tied to how consumers value themselves and others. This gives every brand, the opportunity to develop a strategy that goes beyond simply adding a big red bow to their packaging. In developing gift offerings that help consumers express their feelings and have an experience in their own right, they can create a connection, elevating themselves as brand that understands the true meaning of giving. 

Thomas Herman is Founder and Marketing Director of Path.

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