Undoubtedly, there is a reason to give a gift every day of the year. Every day someone is celebrating a birthday, getting married, achieving a goal, overcoming a challenge. To be successful at the art of gifting, jewelers must remind customers of all the many ways they can celebrate the people and moments in their lives, positioning their products as the perfect gifts of meaning and love.
The gifting market totals some $131 billion, estimates Unity Marketing. About 10% of total sales in GAFO-type stores (defined as general merchandise, apparel, home furnishings and other types of stores by the Census department) are attributed to gift buying. Gift shopping is significantly more important for some types of retailers than others, with Unity citing that more than one in three jewelry-shopping experiences are gift related.
While Christmas gift spending has been flat over the five-year study period, overall spending on gifting increased 6.4% from 2010 to 2015, meaning the opportunity for retailers to grow their share of the gifting market largely rests on attracting gift shoppers throughout the rest of the year, for other holidays and gifting occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings.
“Although the annual year-end holiday gifting season receives the lion’s share of retailer attention, the reality is that gifting represents a large marketing opportunity throughout the year,” purports Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing in Stevens, Pennsylvania. “Retailers must help customers identify good gift choices, not just for Christmas, but for all occasions. Recognizing the opportunity is the first step, then take action!”
For the typical gifters, Christmas accounts for slightly less than half of their total gift-giving budget. The majority of gift purchases are made the rest of the year. “Marketers and retailers need to understand the gift buying and shopping behavior of customers in order to attract them and meet their needs with suitable gift ideas and gift shopping experiences,” says Danziger.
An interesting reveal, Unity’s study found that from 2012 to 2015 gifters cut back the number of gift recipients by about one person for both Christmas and birthdays, but kept their level of spending about even with the previous year as a money-saving strategy. Danziger notes that Internet shopping is a game changer disrupting the gifting market.
Undoubtedly, popular jewelry gifts for birthdays are full of personality. “Personalized jewelry is where it’s at! Initial pendants, charms and birthstones are among birthday bestsellers,” says Samir Sanghani, senior vice president of sales for Verigold, New York. “Trendier items like small hoops, small diamond or gem front-to-back earrings also make popular gifts.”
For gents, the same thing holds true, particularly engravings for cufflinks, signet rings and accessories like key chains and money clips, cites Jonathan Goodman Cohen, IB Goodman in Newport, Kentucky. But he hails the popularity of bracelets for men, which rank No. 1 in accessories sales. “There are absolutely no limits in styling, materials and price points.”
Diamond jewelry is also a birthday must have, reports Sung Tae Park, sales marketing manager for the Chicago-based Fantasy Diamond and hails easy-to-wear diamond jewelry a birthday no-brainer. Think style staples that you wear all of the time, simple, classic designs, but with a modern twist. She cites the continued trend for new takes on the halo design in earrings, pendants and rings—double, triple and floral designs, and different shapes combined.
Cohen cites gold and diamond jewelry as particularly popular for anniversaries, as much a memorable gift for men as for women. He says IB Goodman will offer more up market items like nicely weighted gold and diamond styles starting in 2016. “A gold and gem ring for a man is a special gift that can be worn for all to see and certainly sets an individual apart from the pack. Shoppers might consider adapting their favorite design with individual style.”
Moreover, pearls continue to be the go-to jewel and gemstone for 2016, cites Kathy Grenier, marketing director, Imperial Pearl, Providence, Rhode Island. “Basics are reborn; designs re-imagined like front-to-back earrings, ear climbers and more, coupled with their legendary reputation, pearls make the perfect gifts. Especially popular have been our Windsor pink pearls set in 14K rose gold. This is a fresh, new look, a real head turner that is flattering for all skin types and really does add a rosy glow to the wearer.”
Watches also rank as must-have birthday gifts. “A great birthday present is one that means something and will last a long time,” describes Samantha Barker, public relations and social media coordinator for Citizen Watch in Lyndhurst, New York. As examples, she cites the World Chronograph A-T and Citizen L Circle of Time timepieces that will both match the ever-changing fashion trends while never needing to change the battery and always having accurate time.
While jewelers are zeroed in on seasonal gifting, they often neglect to talk about the celebrations that happen everyday. Liz Chatelain of MVI Marketing and Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council, San Luis Obispo, California is a big proponent of highlighting these occasions yearlong. “Retailers should be asking with signage and marketing messages: ‘Whose Birthday Is It Today?’ ‘Have a Special Anniversary Coming Up?’”
Merchandise a selection of gift ideas and keep gift accessories like greeting cards, wrap, bows and ribbons around the gifting area. “Look at the merchandise carried through the lens of a gift shopper,” advises Danziger.
Market gift ideas at the sales counter, as well as traditional advertising and on social media to keep jewelry and watches front of mind for shoppers, advises Chatelain. “Jewelers can get creative in how they help customers impart messages in the items they choose. Social media, in particular, has got to be a merchant’s best and most cost effective opportunity to expand relationships with customers. Build a conversation with the community, discuss and showcase great products, and suggest gift-giving occasions.”
According to a recent study by Lab42, a quantitative market research firm, nearly 40% of gift shoppers are using product recommendations on their social networks to spot and buy gifts. A near second to website research, social media, particularly Facebook, is a significant resource for gift ideas.