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Consumer gifting behavior – Is your business packaging up the Gift of Giving?

by Charlie Caruso on June 18, 2013
Business

In terms of revenue created and the value in experience for customers, gifts are an important part of the world economy, yet are we giving the gift of gifting to our customers?

It’s an interesting thought, and one I feel that is largely underexploited by many small businesses as a great way to diversity and repositioning your product or service offerings.

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving. Erma Bombeck Tweet this

Sure beauty salons and restaurants and a host of other industries have been onto this for years, but I don’t believe we have utilised gift giving to its full potential.

Your current business and services chosen as gifts represent more than ordinary ‘everyday’ purchases because of their symbolic meaning when they are associated with important life events such as birthdays, mothers’ days, weddings, engagements, graduations, births (divorces being the bizarre new trend in this space) and the list goes on.

These are significant life events that sadly (for culture, not small businesses) is recognised with consumerist and materialistic values, and due to our excessive western behaviour, we no longer want the “standard gift”. Consumers expect the best gift, the most thoughtful gift, the most clever, considerate (not always expensive, but that helps) to show off how much of a wonderful wife/husband/sister/daughter/friend we are. And because the internet has bestowed us with the convenience and choice like never before, we are under even more pressure to think outside the box for great gift ideas.

the internet has bestowed us with the convenience and choice like never before, we are under even more pressure to think outside the box for great gift ideas

A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer. Lucius Annaeus Seneca – Tweet this
And it is here where the untapped potential lies. Give your customers the option to buy your products or services as a gift for their loved ones, that is specially packaged to remind them just how clever they are and how valuable and unique the gift is….simple.

…Or not you might say? Perhaps you don’t offer anything you could package as a gift?

A gift, with a kind countenance, is a double present.Thomas Fuller – Tweet this

I most certainly agree there are some instances where this will be the case, and the funeral industry is the first such scenario that first comes to mind. For my company, PuggleFM, where we offer podcasts and music for free, it is almost impossible for PuggleFM to gift wrap the services in which we offer parents when they are for free in the first place.

Still, there are many businesses with untapped gift giving potential that remains to be fully exploited to its full potential. If I were a business networking company for women, a membership as a gift voucher might be a nice thought for a friend or family member who has just started their own business.

Thinking of a unique “congratulations on your 2nd/3rd/I’ve lost count baby” that’s sure to impress your girlfriend and all in attendance at those highly competitive baby shows? Why not gift a voucher for cleaning for a month, or a mobile massage, or a mobile hair colour/cut and treatment?

A good friend of yours has just got engaged? Need a gift? Why not a voucher for a professional concierge service to help arrange all that dreaded changing your name paperwork (if she is changing her name) or help with the wedding planning and stationary in general?

Gift purchases represent 10% of all retail purchases in North America and over $100 billion is spent annually on gifts in the US (Laroche, et al. 2000).

This combined with the results of a recent study which the variety-seeking trait* extends to gifting, as subjects with this trait consider a wider range of product categories when buying gifts for others (Tilottama, Ratneshawer and Desai 2004), gives a wonderful opportunity for small businesses throughout a wide range of industries the ability to access the untapped potential in the gift of giving gifts. Your challenge ladies and gentlemen has been set, it’s not up to you to accept it!

Chance happens to all, but to turn chance to account is the gift of few. Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton – Tweet this

*variety seeking trait: a personality-driven trait quite similar to Optimum Stimulation Level of which there are several different types;

1. Exploratory purchase behaviour (e.g. switching brands to experience new and possibly better alternatives).

2. Vicarious exploration (e.g. where the consumer secured information about a new or different alternative and then contemplates or even daydreams about it).

3. Use-innovativeness (e.g. where the consumer uses an already adopted product in a new or novel way) (Schiffman 2011)

Works Cited

Laroche, Michel, Gad Saad, Elizabeth Browne, Mark Cleveland, and Kim Chankon. Determinents of in-store information search strategies pertaining to a Christmas gift purchase. 2000.

Schiffman, Leon, Aron O’Cass, Angela Paladino, Steven D’Alessandro, David Bednall. Consumer Behaviour 5th ed. Sydney: Pearson Australia, 2011.

Tilottama, G., S. Ratneshawer, and Kalpesh K. Desai. “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself: Variety Seeking motives in gift giving.” Advances in consumer Research, 2004: 22-23.

Charlie Caruso

Charlie Caruso is the founder and CEO of PuggleFM, an online radio and podcasting station created especially for parents and children. Since its inception, PuggleFM has found audiences in the US, Europe, across Australia and Asia looking for an alternative to commercial radio. Charlie, 25, is the 2013 winner of the Australian Excellence Awards Women in Business category; a finalist in New Business and Young Entrepreneur categories in the Small Business Champion Awards 2013.

Additionally Charlie is a current finalist in the WAITTA Achiever category for her contribution to ICT in WA. Charlie has a background studying international business and Mandarin at Murdoch University. Always interested in business, she started her first enterprise when she was 16. Charlie is also available for speaking appearances  bookings through Voxy Lady Speakers;
http://voxylady.com.au/speakers/she-business-speakers/charlie-caruso

Featured image:Thomas Hawk

Charlie Caruso
Charlie Caruso is the Editor and Co-Author of Understanding Y, a book she produced alongside 15 leading inter-generational commentators that reveals the secrets of how to engage, attract and communicate with Gen Y. Charlie is also the Founder of PuggleFM, an award-winning online radio station and podcast portal for parents and families
 
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