Capitalizing On The Gifting Economy: How Do You Stack Up?

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Gift giving occurs year-round, and it gives retailers the opportunity to play a role in deepening connections and relationships with and between customers. 

In this week’s webinar, John Grech, Head of Retail Partnerships at GiftNow, gave an overview of gifting in 2020. Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group, then shared her company’s research on gifting marketing trends. Lastly, the two were joined by Lori Gatto, Sr. Director Digital Marketing at Chico’s FAS, Inc. and Jackie Diette, Director, eCommerce at kate spade new york, for a panel discussion moderated by Scott Silverman, Co-Founder at CommerceNext. 

Watch the replay here or read the recap below. 



GiftNow is a company that allows its customers to send and receive gifts instantly and easily via email or text. GiftNow of course sees spikes in gifting during holidays, such as Mother’s Day and Christmas, but with 800,000 birthdays celebrated everyday in the US, its business remains fairly consistent year-round (as shown in the graph below). John Grech confirmed that while Covid-19 forced everyone to stay home and spend holidays apart, most consumers adapted by sending gifts digitally. 

GiftNow’s Gifting Trends in 2019, 2020 and 2021. 

The e-tailing group

Lauren Freedman provided an overview of a recent study by the e-tailing group,“The e-tailing group 2020 Gifting Index,” which looked at 50 retailers and 20 features of gift giving. They examined 2020 gifting trends during the holiday season and compared individual brands’ approaches to gifting. 

In comparing practices by retailer, they looked at four gifting fundamentals and the tactics used to deploy each:

  1. Gift cards (plastic, digital, ability to personalize/customize, video).
  2. Gifting merchandising / visibility (gifting center, gifts by attribute, top sellers, what’s new, gift advisor). 
  3. Loyalty and gifting programs (loyalty program, corporate gifting, wish lift, gift registry).
  4. Customer service (live chat, offer free shipping on all products, same day delivery, shipping cutoff ground delivery, return policy posted, holiday extension granted).

There were seven “gift rich” retailers with the highest scores in the index: Best Buy, Kay Jewelers, Michael’s, REI, Target, Tory Burch and Walmart. The common successful threads across all seven retailers were the following tactics: :

  • Plastic cards
  • Digital gift cards
  • Gift center
  • Gifts by attribute
  • Return policy posted
  • Wishlist 

Freedman recommends that all companies replicate her study and test it on their own bands. After completing the test, they should evaluate the landscape, put best practices into place and test and refine. 

Panel Discussion

It is important to be agile in the realm of gifting. Every gifter and recipient is different, so retailers must vary resources that are offered. Additionally, since the pandemic has prohibited people from seeing their loved ones, people have wanted their gifts to feel more personal, making presentation and packaging vital in increasing purchases and loyalty. 

The panelists agreed that e-gift cards have been extremely successful this year. Kate Spade New York created an e-gift card program as a response to the pandemic and it has been one of their most successful gifting strategies. People are able to buy the card last minute, so in addition to convenience, they were able to reach the “Oh, ‘I forgot’ shopper,” as Diette put it.

The last piece of advice from the panel involved social good:, if retailers want to add an aspect of “giving back” to their gifting practices, it should be done in a genuine and knowledgeable way. If it is authentic to the brand, customers will respect it, but otherwise, “It can come off as insincere, or doesn’t stand out from the crowd,” according to Diette.

It is evident that gifting has shifted to digital and consumers may choose to continue virtually celebrating after adapting to it for an entire year. Brands must also adapt and keep up with this trend in order to stay relevant in the gifting economy.