UNWRAPPING THE POWER OF GIVING

Gifting has been an important part of human interaction for as long as we can remember, helping us establish and define relationships. However most brands have failed to see the importance of this occasion, and to uncover the real motivations behind it beyond simple seasonality. This paper provides a point of view on how to make the most out of this underused tool.

 

1. The big issue

 

Gifting is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction and a fundamental branding tool that so far has been under-used by most brands

Spending on gifts is on the rise and consumers are asking for more. Figures from the 2015 UK Gifting Index show that consumers in the UK spent an average of £370.67 on gifting occasions, an increase of 7% versus the previous year, and that’s not even counting spending on birthdays or Christmas.

This figure proves that consumers are exhibiting a clear interest towards gift giving. However, at certain times of the year brands play the gifting game the same way, and most have a reactive approach to it, being gift initiatives mainly triggered by retailers demands instead of proper consumer insights.

But Gifting isn’t just a case of dressing a product up with a freebie or fancy pack, nor a series of stand-alone initiatives disconnected from the rest of your branding efforts.

The right gifting strategy can help brands become a fundamental part of consumers’ relationships, because gifting is instrumental in maintaining those relationships, due to the fact that gifts are tangible expressions of the relationships we form, helping us facilitate the demonstration and expressions of feelings.

Brands have much to gain from understanding the complex motivation and dynamics behind gifting.

 

2. Why this is important now

 

The gifting interaction and motivations behind it are highly complex and diverse, and not always taken into account when defining gift initiatives.

The key to unlocking gifting is recognising that there are two forms of gifting, each with its own and differentiated motivational constructs.

Gifting to others

The motivations aren’t unidimensional. They are likely to differ between individuals based on variables such as occasion and closeness to the receiver.

This construct identifies two predominant contexts for gifting to others, and is based on two inner goals, emotional expression and obligation fulfilment:

  • Expression: Giving out of love, primarily a hedonic motive, based on emotional, experiential and subjective rewards (e.g. giving to express love, to make others happy)
  • Obligation: Giving out of obligation, can reflect both hedonic (e.g. giving to avoid guilt) and utilitarian motives that capture the desire to achieve functional benefits (e.g. giving to obligate someone else)

Self-gifting

Self-gifting is a complex occasion deeply tied to inner emotions. This occasion tends to be premeditated and highly context bound, and it is becoming more important as consumers in the west have become increasingly self- oriented.

There are two predominant and very different contexts when it comes to self-gifting:

  • Therapeutic. Aims to cheer up oneself when feeling down
  • Reward. Aims to reward oneself for an accomplishment

Gifting also is one of the only consumption occasions that involves 2 audiences, the giver and the receiver, as gifts are symbolic declarations about the relationship that connects both of them. This can mean a unique opportunity for brands to touch two target consumers at once.

At the same time, this process is impacted by the nature of the relationship, and varies by gender and type of consumer.

Gender

  • Women are more likely than men to engage in gifting, both for themselves and others, and are more concerned about giving and receiving gifts with emotional significance.
  • Men have a more functional approach to gifting, are less emotionally engaged, and more price conscious.

Type of consumer

  • Millennials are leading the charge when it comes to self-gifting, being the group more likely than any other age groups to make impulse purchases to pamper themselves.
  • HNW Individuals are looking for personal enrichment alongside “status” when giving and receiving gifts. They are big spenders with appetites for consuming goods and services that entrench them in “the good life”.

There are many variables at play, making the gifting category difficult to navigate, therefore a clearer and more concise approach to this occasion is needed.

 

3. How this affects you

 

We have developed a model to help navigate this emotional space, in order to find new commercial opportunities for brands

We know there are two very different forms of gifting, from self-gifting, which is ego oriented, to interpersonal gifting, which is socially oriented. And within these, two differential gifting moods: an emotional expression that taps into our yearning for freedom, and an obligatory response that links with our need for control

This 2×2 matrix defines 4 distinctive gifting territories that tap into diverse motivations. When we map them against the standard Needs Map, we can identify the underlying needs and come up with insights that are deeper than the retail seasonal calendar, offering brands the opportunity to have a role in gifting all year around

 

 

4. The solution

 

A new model that links consumer insights with an emotional powerful brand story to create a distinctive and more relevant solution  

Assert our personal self: Givers look to reward themselves for an accomplishment, related to the feeling of “deserving”, earning the right to indulge through hard work.

Key Needs:

• Assertiveness
• Control

Occasions

• To escape or distract from problems
• To release from stress endured
• To raise or reinforce self-esteem
• To feel well or special

 

The pleasure of connections: Givers enjoy choosing gifts and feel that gifts are a way of showing love and friendship to receivers.

Key Needs

• Pleasure
• Affinity

Occasions

• Traditional occasions
• Mark milestone
• Tokens of appreciation

 

 

Connect with yourself: Givers look to cheer themselves up when feeling down, serving as coping strategies to escape temporary negative feelings or problems.

Key Needs

• Assertiveness
• Control

Occasions

• To escape or distract from problems
• To release from stress endured
• To raise or reinforce self-esteem
• To feel well or special

 

Deliver comfort in social situations: Givers experience guilt if they don’t give, giving because of others’ expectations. They feel they must reciprocate when they have received a gift.

Key Needs

• Affinity
• Control

Occasions

• Traditional occasions

 

 

5. The bottom line

 

Brands don’t have to be influenced by the demands of retailers. Instead, they should lead the way and change the game because:

Gifting isn’t one-dimensional – there are many aspects and dimensions to gifting

Gifting can meet a range of emotional needs and occasions, which create innovation opportunities

Gifting has more than one ‘moment of truth’ and brands could benefit from building this into their strategies

Gifting should relate to the whole emotion spectrum, both positive and negative

Gifting strategies depend on the target, as different segments exhibit very different mind-sets (e.g. Millennials and HNWIs)

 

 

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