The Art of Gifting

One of life’s greatest pleasures is exchanging gifts. Almost every culture has traditions related to giving and receiving them. Gift giving is one way of expressing love, gratitude and appreciation, and recognizing special occasions and achievements. It’s also a multi-billion dollar business.

A five-year study about gift retailing released in 2015 by Unity Marketing revealed that $1 out of every $10 spent at retail buys a gift. That means roughly one out of every 10 shoppers is out looking for a gift. Estimated to total more than $131 billion at the time of this report, the gifts business is significantly more important for some types of retailers than others, most notably jewelers, with more than one out of every three jewelry-shopping experiences related to gift giving.

“Retailers that do not tap the relationship potential of gift marketing miss half its power; and those that do not maximize gifting sales opportunities throughout the year lose even more,” says Pam Danziger, president of the luxury marketing firm in Stevens, Pennsylvania. “Gift giving offers retailers all of the advantages and promotional marketing power of sampling plus word-of-mouth, but magnifies that power through the strong emotional connection between giver and receiver.”

According to Unity research, about 45% of annual gift spending occurs for the winter holidays, which is down from 48% in 2009 and has remained flat. Danziger notes that the fourth quarter is not the moneymaker it used to be, as shopping habits have changed. Valentine’s and Mother’s Days continue to register spikes in jewelry sales, as jewelry remains a consistently popular gift for these seasonal occasions, cites the National Retail Federation.

Jewelers who can successfully highlight items for the holidays and special occasions throughout the year will encourage customers to return often to buy more gifts and also purchase things for themselves, underscores Eve Chiles with Breuning, Inc. Lawrenceville, Georgia. “That’s steady money in the bank!”

Reasons Beyond Seasons
Presenting a year-round position that advocates a variety of reasons for giving the gift of jewelry will keep consumers regularly engaged and foster stronger customer relations, advocates marketing consultant Andrea Hill of the Chicago-based Hill Management Group. “Gifting is one of the best ways to get people into your store all the time. More people come in to buy gifts than engagement rings.”

The two biggest reasons consumers buy jewelry are birthdays and anniversaries, cites James Porte, president of Porte Marketing Group, Weston, Florida. “Someone is celebrating a birthday or anniversary every day of the year. Reminding customers about a gift of jewelry for these occasions keeps it top of mind—whether through Facebook posts, email, text, direct mail, or combination.”

Porte says many retailers do not do a good job of this because they do not place an emphasis on collecting customer data. “While many consumers are reluctant to share their information, it’s all about what you say and how you say it. Assure them that their information will be kept private and protected, and that you will use it to contact them about specials, new products and services, and events. Make it a quick pro quo and offer something in return, like a discount, gift card, or free service to create incentive to share.”


Get Creative
But don’t just focus on the traditional gift-giving occasions, advocates Alisa Bunger, director of sales, B88 Division of the Dallas-based Prime Art Jewel, Elle Jewelry. “Get creative in how you talk about and present gift-giving opportunities. There is an array of themes to explore—from bridal party and pregnancy push presents to back to school, retirement, and mid-life crisis gifts. Think of the most random opportunities to buy a gift and create fun presentations around them.” For out-of-the-box ideas explore

“Frankly, advocating ‘no reason as the best reason’ for a special gift has a lot of potential in an era in which customers, particularly those under 40, seem fond of overthrowing convention in favor of personal expression,” says retail consultant Kate Peterson, president of Performance Concepts, Montgomery Village, Maryland. “It’s about ‘training’ customers to think of jewelry as the best representation of a thought, idea or feeling, whether it be based on style, color or any other defining characteristic. Making the ‘no occasion’ acceptable actually makes it easier to promote ‘accepted’ occasions like birthdays and holidays.”

There is a big opportunity for retailers to promote jewelry as the perfect gift in that many other gift items are ‘take as is’, notes Peterson. “Jewelry, in many cases, allows for a high degree of personalization, from combinations to customization to complete custom design. That makes any gift for any occasion or for no occasion more reflective of the sentiment driving the purchase.”

There’s an array of jewelry that offers the “you took the time to personalize it” message, cites Renee Miller, director of sales and merchandising for the Chicago-based brand Alison and Ivy. Styles like letters, numbers, lockets, charms, and birthstones capture the trend among consumers to layer jewelry that tells their story. “It’s a way for someone to logo themselves, which is especially relevant to millennial consumers. Personalization is propelling jewelry trends and is exactly what jewelers should promote to encourage gift giving year round.”