Thursday, December 15

'Tis The Season ... For Self Gifting

Here's another blog post from a student at the University of Kansas, as part of #Blogapalooza -- giving students a voice and a platform to talk about marketing.  As you all know, "marketing is a spectator sport," so let's all learn from each other!

Today Mark talks about a phenomenon happening this holiday shopping season that just might drive retail sales growth.  I personally have contributed, I have to say!

Mark, what's your experience?  Jim.

As we enter the season of giving, the spirit of holiday shoppers will exhibit an nontraditional twist.  Consumers say they plan to spend less on gifts for others and more on themselves, often dubbed as self-gifting or the double-shopping phenomenon.  A survey from the National Retail Federation reveals it as one of the most significant trends this holiday season, where overall spending expects to remain relatively flat.  So how will marketing strategies cater to self-gifting and, hopefully, allow retailers to laugh "Ho Ho Ho" all the way to the bank?

Let's look at the numbers.  Outside of gifts this holiday, shoppers intend to spend about $130, on average, on items for themselves or their families - up 16% from last year's $112.  And it's climbed 35% since 2007, as the recession settled in.  A shopper already out working her Christmas list reinforced this trend and talked about her approach.  "My mom always said growing up, 'One for you, one for me.'  So that's kind of my philosophy this year and I tend to find necessities for myself along the way."

The owner of a local boutique, that garners 90 % of its annual sales from holiday shopping, describes what she notices with shoppers.  "You buy what you like, and end up keeping a lot of what you buy for others, and then have to get a second one for someone else."

With J. Crew, you can forget about even thinking or acting like you're shopping for someone else.  The retailers clearly embraces the trend with messaging like "gift yourself" and indulging in "pre-holiday pampering."

To capitalize on the trend, retailers could rekindle the era of desperation marketing strategy with varieties of "buy one, get one free" from the 2008 holiday season sobered by the recession.  It could help satisfy this year's "one for you, one for me philosophy."  Whatever the approach by consumers, it seems retailers will encounter droves of shoppers expecting more this year and when making a purchase are thinking "and ...?"  Maybe a BOGO strategy could tie-in a gift card.  The NRF survey shows continued growth in the number of people wanting a gift card under the tree - 58% this year.

Retailers who donate a certain amount of sales to charity or engage in some type of cause marketing campaign may also persuade shoppers with "price plus" mentality.  Maybe straight discounts, a free extended warranty or exceptional customer service will entice consumers this holiday season.

It seems clear that retailers will employ a variety of marketing strategies to attract holiday shoppers who are more focused than ever on themselves and value.  What's likely at the top of every marketer's wish list this year?   Determining how a shopper defines value.

D. Mark Dunn
Broadcast Journalist & Communications Professional
MS, Journalism, Marketing Communications student at the University of Kansas

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