Executive Summary

Although gift-giving is a global tradition that has been around for centuries, the practice has changed drastically since the 1800s—from a meaningful exchange of valuable goods to a commercially-driven social obligation centered around popular holidays. In the last century, retail and consumer product companies have become the center of the gifting experience, building extensive strategies and rituals around the practice. By creating convenient physical locations to purchase consumer goods, offering related services such as gift wrapping, and evolving their product strategies with consumer tastes, many retailers have dominated gifting.

But as the internet has transformed retail, consumers now face nearly unlimited options from limitless companies. As a result, both consumers and companies are shifting their gifting strategies. Competition is growing from the explosion of digitally-native brands, the increasing power of media companies, new gifting technologies and the never-ending rise of social media platforms. All told, gifting today and in the future is shaping up to look much different than it did in the past.

This report examines:

  • How past and present gifting is evolving
  • How these changes are affecting brand and retailer strategies
  • How brands, investors and real estate developers can take advantage of these developments

This report includes the Loose Threads Gift Guide Survey, which grades online gift guides on a number of factors.

Takeaways

  • More than 50% of gift purchases will be conducted on the internet in 2017. This is leading to higher consumer expectations, including quicker delivery and more personalized gift options.
  • Retailers are responding by creating digital holiday gift guides, which feature special-edition products and filtering options to help shoppers find the perfect gift. Media companies are also creating gift guides, a way to channel their influence to secure a piece of the holiday-gifting sales pie.
  • According to the Loose Threads Gift Guide Survey, only 53% of companies analyzed offered online gift-wrapping services and only 27% offered last-minute gifting options, presenting a clear opportunity for improvement.  

Case Studies

Burlington, Buzzfeed, Facebook, GiftNow, Glamour, Glossier, Instagram, Lightrail, Macy’s, Pinterest, Snapchat, Topshop, Victoria’s Secret, Walmart, Warby Parker, and WeChat.

What’s happening and why does it matter?

Traditional gifting

Psychological and Cultural Traditions

Gift giving could be as old as the human species itself, according to some estimates. Thousands of years ago, people gifted items like animal teeth or rocks. After humans started making tools, which allowed them to transform objects from their innate forms, gifts became more elaborate. Native Americans, for example, gave out lavish gifts during special occasions such as births, deaths, weddings and events with other tribes.

Today, most cultures have unique gift-giving traditionslottery tickets in Great Britain, money-stuffed red envelopes in China and small gifts inside shoes in Argentina. They are meant to strengthen relationships between people, acting as “glue” that keeps families, friendships, and professional relations in tact. In popular culture, gift-giving has been featured as one of the five ways to express and experience love, specifically in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, which he published in 1995.

How holidays turned into a shopping season

Christmas evolved from a quiet church celebration before the mid-1800’s to the most capitalist holiday in modern times—a gift-giving extravaganza. This shift was also spurred by 19th-century urbanization in the United States, when retail stores became a large part of the country’s economic fabric. When department stores emerged, new couples often received very expensive china, meant to outlast their marriage and be passed down through generations.

But in more recent decades, gifting both gained notoriety and accelerated, leading to the fast-fashion mentality around gifting that exists today: nothing is ever enough and trends move at a rapid clip. Today, Americans spend around $1 trillion dollars during the holidays each year. One-third of this money, or over $300 billion, is spent on physical gifts, with the average American spending $752 each season.

The current state of gifting

The power and challenge of Q4

For most brands and retailers, the fourth quarter is crucial, since it encompasses the end-of-year holidays. Sales during November and December alone can account for over 30% of a retailer’s annual revenue. Macy’s fourth-quarter revenue, for example, accounted for 33% of its sales for 2016, a substantial outcome.

As companies focus on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other seasonal promotions, companies have to strike a unique balance between selling existing inventory during this busy time and creating new products specifically for this season. This year there was a 6.5% lift in new products arriving into stores when compared to the first half, according to EDITED, a merchandising analytics company. As the gifting season grows, companies are making more specific products as they aim to catch the increasingly competitive eyes of shoppers.

However, with the promise of the holiday season comes significant unpredictability. During Macy’s Q1 2017 conference call, for example, the company stated that lower-than-expected revenues for the previous holiday season made it rethink its strategy, which included appointing a new CEO. Not only can retailers not predict how many shoppers will enter their stores and how much they’ll buy, but the holiday season is also laden with sales, cutting retailers’ margins even further. Bonobos and Ralph Lauren both reduced over 50% of their products in November 2017, according to EDITED.

Many companies also spend the fourth quarter scrambling to produce the infrastructure and labor needed to fulfill their orders and man their stores. For example, Amazon is adding 120,000 workers for its warehouses during this holiday season, while other companies often fall short staffing up to match demand.

Companies built for year-round gifting

Given the power of gifting but precariousness of Q4, some brands, retailers and many jewelry stores are increasingly focusing on year-round gifting. Victoria’s Secret, for instance, was born out of founder Roy Raymond’s desire to offer a better shopping experience for men looking to purchase lingerie for their wives. Its continued emphasis on gifting ensures that all its products are unique enough to be giftable. This has disrupted the lingerie industry and served the company well, as it also  broadens its focus to include more beauty and fragrance products, according to L Brand’s Q3 2017 conference call. While Victoria’s Secret is built for year-round gifting, it still alters its marketing and presentation materials during the holidays to showcase products that are as beautiful, bold, and giftable as possible. This is evidence that shoppers are in market at all times and gifting is not just a holiday activity.

Gifting also provides brands with a compelling way to increase the value of each of its customers by converting regular shoppers into gift-buyers. The seasonal retailer Burlington Coat Factory, for example, strategically uses gifts to increase its revenue for purchases other than cold-weather coats, according to its Q3 2016 conference call. It is doing this by adding new products such as women’s apparel, children’s, housewares, home decor, and beauty to its growing “giftable” lineup. The company is trying to become a “gift-giving company,” rather than relying on cold weather, its coats and other products.

Companies are also tackling year-round gifting by focusing on other holidays such as National Sibling Day, National Donut Day, Grandparents Day, Friendship Day, World Emoji Day and others. Amazon has also worked to make Prime Day, its own holiday that celebrates Amazon’s anniversary on July 15th, the U.S. equivalent to Alibaba’s Singles Day, the largest shopping day in the world. But most brands and retailers still have a lot of work to do on this front.  

Online gifting takes off

2017 is forecasted to be the first year when the majority of gifts are purchased online instead of at physical stores. However, successfully converting offline shoppers into online shoppers is difficult; many companies still don’t have the infrastructure and strategy in place to succeed.

There are two main changes that online gifting is causing.

First, given the growing number of gift options, consumers are increasingly expecting gifts to be more relevant and personalized for the recipient. In one survey, 56% of respondents said they were reluctant or refused to buy gift cards, and instead preferred gifting an actual product. Shoppers want to take advantage of the growing number of products that serve different niches, which are easy to turn into gifts for the right person.

Second, there is now a larger focus on last-minute purchases. Consumers have grown accustomed to fast delivery, a service Amazon has placed a massive focus on. Back in 2015, 43% of all online gifts for on Mother’s Day were purchased the day of or day before. Today, as this number continues to increase for other holidays as well, it’s crucial that brands focus on expedited delivery. Two prominent examples are Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond’s Same Day Delivery programs, which promise instant delivery for people living in select cities. This is especially important for last-minute gifters and impatient, modern shoppers who expect instantaneous service. With nearly 20% of consumers saying they have abandoned an online purchase for fear that the gift wouldn’t arrive on time, features like this are vital for retailers in current consumer landscape.

How brands are tackling gifts

As gifting has moved online, many brands and retailers have turned to gift guides as a crucial starting place to send shoppers. The goal is to help shoppers find the right products, especially ones that brands and retailers can deliver profitably and on time.

The strategy and construction behind a gift guide varies between brands, retailers and media companies. To evaluate the status of gift guides, we surveyed 15 retail gift guides in our inaugural Loose Threads Gift Guide Survey. It measures gift guides on different dimensions, for example, the prominence and aesthetics of the guides, their filtering and navigation systems and the products and services offered around gifting. The brands surveyed include: Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, Bonobos, Glossier, Harry’s, J.Crew, MeUndies, Ralph Lauren, Reformation, Rolex, Sephora, Tous, Ulta, Warby Parker, and Williams Sonoma.

87% of the brands and retailers we surveyed had gift guides, and 93% of these were featured on the company’s homepage, indicating its importance to the company’s fourth-quarter strategy. All of the gift guides, except for one, were tailored specifically to the holidays.

While many of the traditional brands and retailers employed similar strategies to help users navigate their large product selections, the digitally-native brands we looked at took a different approach. Warby Parker focused specifically on holiday, with its site and products featuring artwork by Swedish artist Andreas Samuelsson and a prominently marketed holiday gift guide featuring special-edition products like stuffed toys. Glossier, however, was the only company we surveyed that did not have a gift guide. Its site remained largely the same, although it offered a 20% Black Friday discount.

92% of brands and retailers with gift guides also allowed for filtering by gender, price and popularity. 80% of companies had special-edition holiday items, which ranged from plaid cookware from Le Creuset on Williams Sonoma’s site to a line of festive watches on Rolex’s site. Surprisingly, only 53% of the companies in the survey offered gift wrapping, which is an essential part of completing the gifting process. While gift guides are in a good place for some companies, others have a ways to go catching up and pushing the experience forward.

Gifting goes into retail

While online gifting is growing, brands and retailers are also elevating their offline gifting experiences, hoping to drive shoppers into their stores. This not only increases sales and customers’ affinity toward retailers, but also creates Instagrammable moments that help brands generate additional attention. For example, Topshop is working with Kylie Cosmetics, bringing Kylie Jenner’s holiday pop-ups into seven of its stores. These pop-ups feature two collections exclusive to Topshop, which entice consumers to make in-store purchases, in addition to increasing foot-traffic, brand relevance and peripheral sales. Glossier also built a number of holiday pop-ups to encourage holiday engagement, sales, and relevance as it expands worldwide.

Older brands such as Walmart are also finding ways to integrate gifting into their offline strategy, particularly as it competes with Amazon, which drew 55% of online transactions during 2017’s Black Friday. Walmart, arguably Amazon’s largest rival, is slated to organize 20,000 holiday parties during the 2017 season—Santa will visit stores, and different events will allow children to explore Walmart’s toys and adults to shop for holiday party supplies and choose gifts. This is vital in today’s landscape where only the most engaging and valuable physical retail stores can survive.

How the media is tackling gifts and gaining power

While third-party retailers and large department stores reigned supreme throughout the 20th century because they held the power to funnel consumer demand, the explosion of online gifting is minting a new winner: digital media companies. The New York Times and BuzzFeed, for example, are much better aligned—and incentivized—to curate and disseminate gift guides online, replacing department stores as key holiday distribution for brands.

Our survey looking at Allure, Buzzfeed, Glamour, New York Times/Wirecutter, found that while brands were most likely to use price and gender to help shoppers filter through their holiday gift selections, media companies used more complex indicators such as “the purpose of the gift” and “the personality of the gift-receiver” to create their holiday shopping guides. For example, Glamour’s guide features gifts for the “Fitness Addict in Your Life,” “The Fashion Forward Feminist” and mentions specific retailers—for example, “What Sephora Employees Are Giving as Gifts This Year.” Buzzfeed takes its listicale approach to create irresistible gift guides like “22 Products On Amazon That’ll Make Perfect Gifts” and “22 Last Minute Subscription Box Gifts For Everyone On Your List.”

The proliferation of online shopping and media sites’ immense traffic numbers have combined to give media companies an unprecedented amount of power over retail. Media companies are acting as gatekeepers by choosing the products that flash before the eyes of their tens of  millions of readers. Even The New York Times is utilizing this strategy by way of The Wirecutter, their recent acquisition—a product review site— that has released a number of holiday gift guides for the 2017 season.

For brands, this is new territory. The potential online reach—especially with a boost from a media company—is massive, and media sites often send traffic directly to a brand’s website, which allows it to build direct relationships with customers. Even with an affiliate fee, which can range anywhere from 5-15% of sales on average, plenty of margin still is available for brands.

However, digital media is often unpredictable and nearly impossible to control. Most products will not make it to a gift guide—there simply isn’t enough room for all of them. For the majority of products that get left out, it is much harder for a brand to cut through the noise.  

 Where gifting is going

The proliferation of the internet gives consumers complete access to products around the world from the comfort of their couches. Shoppers are used to getting what they want, when they want it. As the holidays become more commercial and gifting further expands its role in society, often beyond just Q4, the entire ecosystem needs to evolve.

Social media and gifting

Social media platforms have been adamantly fighting for their piece of the gifting and e-commerce pie. As people began to dedicate more of their attention to social platforms, it became logical for tech companies to seek revenue from the gifting practice.

One of the best examples of a successful social media gifting strategy comes from China’s WeChat, which has tapped into the Chinese tradition of distributing money-filled red envelopes on various holidays. In the app, the money became the message—WeChat users can send digital red envelopes to their friends in a service called Red Packets. This act has turned into a cultural meme and a game that WeChat users can play. For example, one popular game begins when a user sends multiple red envelopes with varying amounts of money to a group of friends—usually there are more players than red envelopes—and the friends rush to claim the “prizes.” WeChat’s Red Packets has created an element of surprise and anticipation, helping the service grow: the company now averages over 500 million transactions per day. The program also acts as a way for the social platform to collect payment data from users and then push them to use WeChat for other transactionswhether to hail a cab, buy movie tickets, or purchase food.

In America, however, social media platforms’ efforts to capitalize on gifting has met mixed results. Facebook launched Gifts in September 2012 as an online shop housed within the site. Users could buy chocolate, teddy bears, wine and gift cards for their Facebook friends. The platform hoped that the popularity of its birthday reminders and the elimination of shipping addresses would make the product a success. The product, however, functioned more as a commerce push that didn’t speak to consumers, forcing Gifts to shut down. Compared to WeChat’s Red Packets program, which capitalized on an important ritual, Facebook failed at giving users a captivating reason to use the serviceusers merely sent their friends a gift card or a small gift, which lacked cultural significance.

Instagram and Snapchat have met more success eliciting transactions by linking their Instagram Stories and SnapAds to ecommerce pages, where a user can complete a purchase. This integration comes from technology company MikMak, with a feature called MikMak Attach that directs users to swipe up on stories and then takes them to a specifically-designed ecommerce landing page. It eliminates the traditional friction between a social post and a purchase by making the process easier for consumers to operate and giving brands and retailers the ability to provide the user with extra content once they swipe up. There is ample opportunity for retailers to tie this integration to gifting with some simple strategic and operational tweaks.

A newer social strategy comes from Pinterest, which is following in the media industry’s footsteps by creating some of its own gift guides, called Pinterest Secret Santa. The service analyzes profiles and activity on the site and then creates custom gift boards for unique users. The company is partnering with Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS Pharmacy and Universal Pictures for the service. Amazon itself also has a gift guide, but its lack of curation hinders its value.  

Tech companies should do well when it comes to gifting, since they can use their data and personalization techniques to sift through millions of products and recommend the right ones. However, the growing influence of media companies is evidence that there is also a sizeable market for human-curated guides.

Solutions for online gifting

Given the technical challenges ahead for online gifting, there are a number of startups working on solutions.

The GiftNow gift card, which is most notably used by Coach, Gap and Athleta, hopes to solve many online gifting issues. GiftNow works by giving gift-givers the ability to purchase a gift card on a brand or retailer’s site and attach an item to the card without having to order and ship it. The receiver can then “open” their gift through email and exchange it for another size, color or another product altogether, since the full order has not yet been placed. The receiver then gives the brand or retailer her shipping address, eliminating the need for the sender to have this information handy. This service, patented by Loop Commerce, fixes many of the issues inherent to online gifting. It is a great solution for last-minute shoppers, more personal than a regular gift card, eliminates the need of knowing a receiver’s address, and reduces the gift-giver’s purchase hesitation, since the receiver can switch the gift out for something she likes better.

Lightrail is another company that is optimizing the traditional gift card. It  provides a service that powers digital gift cards, which allows brands and retailers to make more money off of them and capture useful consumer data. Unused gift cards are a massive problem for companies, since they cannot legally recognize the revenue until the card is spent. But Lightrail’s digital gift cards allow brands to send shoppers reminders if they’ve neglected to use the card, even offering promotions to encourage their use. If the recipient doesn’t use the card after a number of days, the gift card is cancelled and the money is returned to the gifter.

This encourages more gift card purchases because it’s now impossible to lose a gift card, which is better for shoppers and companies alike. Additionally, the service encourages more sales by collecting data about the gift card user and tracking her purchase and redemptions, which gives companies the ability to create rule-based promotions that they can use to engage specific customer segments.

What does this mean for you and what should you do about it?

Gift guide architecture

Online gift guides are an increasingly popular tool for brands and retailers. These guides lead to direct sales by facilitating the online gift-giving experience and helping shoppers find suitable gifts. However, media companies are competing in this space and creating popular gift guides of their own, increasing their role as gift gatekeepers.  

  • How can gift guides become compelling destinations for shoppers? How can they take advantage of more unconventional filtering options? How can they include an increased amount of signature, giftable products?
  • Which channels should be used to promote gift guides? How can you create marketing strategies around them?

Brands

  • How can you test your gift guides to ensure that they are working well for your audience? Should your key performance indicator be engagement? Time onsite? Conversion?
  • What type of research should you conduct before you implement your gift guides: surveys, social listening, audience insights or something else?
  • How can you work with media companies to ensure your products are present in their gift guides?
  • How can you capture the data of customers using your gift guides for retargeting, email and other marketing? How much data do you need to be effective here?
  • How can a competitive analysis between media company and brand gift guides help enhance brand gift guides? What will make consumers choose brand gift guides over media gift guides?
  • Do you have holiday-specific product that you can promote to excite existing customers and draw in new customers? How do you integrate those products with your existing portfolio to enhance brand experience?
  • Are there potential in-store opportunities for “gift-guide” displays? How do you tie together online and offline channels to maximize holiday messaging?
  • Does a brand gift guide dilute the evergreen aspects of your brand, if relevant? Could influencer seeding be an indirect avenue to gift guides?

Investors

  • What type of traffic and conversion numbers should effective digital gift guides have? How can you determine a gift guide’s effectiveness based off of this data?
  • Is there a defensible reason for the existence of the company’s gift guide? How are the brand, gift guide and limited-edition products working together to make a compelling case for shoppers to buy gifts from the brand?
  • What other channels is the company using to promote its gifts and gift guides? Are these channels reliable? What value is the company bringing to the other channels and vice versa? Is the company over-reliant on one distribution channel?

Real Estate Developers

  • How could you create your own gift guides for your properties depending on their different assortments of stores?
  • How can you bring the popularity of gift guides into your properties? How can you use your marketing, store signage and other branded materials to highlight popular, giftable items?
  • Can you partner with popular media companies like Wirecutter to provide content for your mall gift guides? How can these help bring more traffic into your store(s)?

Gift services

The Loose Threads Gift Guide Survey found that only 53% of companies analyzed offered online gift-wrapping services and only 27% offered last-minute gifting options, both of which are vital for companies to create successful digital gift-giving experiences. People want their gifts to look unique and personal and a large number of people purchase last-minute gifts.  

  • What type of gift-wrapping services will help compel users to purchase a particular product? In which point of the consumer journey should they be used and how will gift-wrapping services help push a shopper to complete the purchase?
  • Which companies can you partner with to help provide seamless in-store or other physical pick-up? Should these services include same-day delivery?

Brands

  • How can you determine if the cost of these services aren’t prohibitively expensive for your business to continue to thrive? How can you create goals for short- and long-term cost-effectiveness?
  • How do you create on-brand gift-wrapping services?
  • What are the logistical constraints of gift-wrapping services for direct-to-consumer brands?
  • Are there sustainability concerns with additional packaging? If part of the brand’s mission, how do you offer additional ways to personalize your products?

Investors

  • Which companies can brands partner with for same-day delivery? How can brands make these services cost-effective?
  • Does gift-wrapping appeal to the target customer base? Is it necessary for the product?
  • Do the same-day delivery services provide leverage for the brand to scale? At what stage of growth is this service valuable?

Real Estate Developers

  • How can you facilitate pick-up services for gifts purchased online? Should you create your own kiosks, drive-thrus or back end processes to help people pick up gifts without having to walk throughout the stores? What about a service like Happy Returns?
  • How can you market the pick-up services your tenants have on your website and other owned assets?
  • Can you facilitate same-day delivery services for all your tenants? How can you run this yourself effectively? Is the cost worth the benefit?
  • Can you offer gift-wrapping services in your mall to help drive holiday and other gift-giving traffic? How can you make this process seamless and easy for shoppers to use and find?

Gifts year-round

On average, the fourth quarter accounts for 30% of a brand or retailer’s annual revenue and around 33% for Macy’s. This reliance on the fourth quarter stems from high sales during the holiday-focused period between Black Friday and Christmas, a period when retailers focus on promotions, limited-edition products and gifts. However, this reliance can hinder businesses because of the increased competition during the period, high marketing costs, need for additional, seasonal labor, and the unpredictability of the season. It is important to create an evergreen gifting strategy to attract shoppers for other gifting occasions that occur year-round, as well as instances for “just because” gifts.

  • Which type of gift guides do consumers want to use year-round? How would these be different than the guides that are used during the holidays? How can gift guides be used to help with product discovery year-round?
  • What type of “news” and events can you help create, akin to Amazon Prime Day, that will attract shoppers? How can they be used to compel gift sales for occasions other than December holidays?
  • What type of product bundles are suitable for year-round gifting? How often should these be on sale? Should they strictly be used for the fourth quarter or should they span more quarters?
  • What other day or time of year are best for yearly promotions and events?
  • Are gifting occasions tied to markdown cadences or promotions? How can you alter that strategy to promote full-price buying behaviors?

Brands

  • What technology and analytics can you use to better predict when consumers want gifts?
  • What type of data measurement and optimization around gifts should you be using? How can you determine if your data and technology pathways are strategically sound?
  • Are gifts-with-purchase relevant to a strategy that avoids markdowns but promotes gifting?

Investors

  • When looking at a new company to invest in, how should you evaluate their revenue share strategy? How can an over-reliance on a specific season or holiday deter you from rating the company favorably?
  • How can companies in your portfolio that are focused on a specific season or use case evolve to focus on gifting? Will this help “deweatherize” the business?
  • If a business predicts spikes in revenue from gifting events, do sales also buffer with subsequent returns? How does this impact department store wholesalers versus vertical brand sales?

Real Estate Developers

  • Can you create special events and deals around your specific properties during days of your choosing to compel people to visit your stores?
  • How do you mitigate an overly promotional atmosphere, in order to prevent sale fatigue?

Solutions for online gifting

Technologies and platforms like social media, Giftnow gift cards and Lightrail make it easier for consumers to go to certain brands for their gifting needs. Additionally, companies can use technology and analytics to better predict when shoppers are ready to purchase gifts.

  • How can less-saturated and emerging social media platforms like Pinterest and others be utilized to ensure that gifting strategies are cost-effective? How can you stay abreast of opportunities to work with these companies?
  • How can you look at online behavior and purchasing data to determine when consumers are ready to purchase gifts? How should you target them?
  • Are there any social media platforms, gift cards and other providers you can partner with that can provide you the data to facilitate this process?

Brands

  • How can your existing data on purchases, consumer email addresses and other aspects of your [sales, campaigns, consumer activity?]  be used to target shoppers for gifting all-year-round and during specific occasions?
  • What should your messaging be around these campaigns? What type of products can you offer for these communications? Should you provide discounts?
  • Do you have the logistical reserves to handle online gifting surges? Are back-end systems pulling stock accurately and quickly to fulfill orders?
  • How do you prevent customer fatigue with oversaturation of channels, especially when shoppers are being targeted for special occasions?

Investors

  • Are the brands that you’re looking at up-to-date on the most efficient gift cards, gifting strategies and data analytics they can use to facilitate gifting purchases?
  • How can you help the companies in your portfolio become up-to-date with these technologies? What if the companies older and/or more sluggish to take up less conventional methods?
  • Has the brand created a strategy for effectively managing the customer relationship to prevent oversaturation abandonment?

Real Estate Developers

  • What type of data do you have around the shoppers that come into your stores and how can you inform your tenants of this data? How can you help them use it and make sense of it? How will this help drive additional sales and benefit your properties?
  • How can you use new social media platforms to help drive your consumers to stores and gift deals? How can you use Snapchat filters, Instagram stories, and other platforms to drive engagement?

Going Forward

As retailers shift from a fourth-quarter to year-round strategy for gifting, their use of technology and analytics to better predict what shoppers want and when they want it will be crucial. This will make for a more profitable and fulfilling full-year experience that gives the retailer more control and the ability to cater to shoppers’ specific needs, instead of being tied down to a calendar. Additionally, it will give brands and retailers the space to create their own news, promotions and traditions, instead of jumping in on a crowded holiday.

Younger, digitally-native companies don’t have the legacy systems and procedures in place that force them into ineffective and antiquated strategies. As a result, their gifting approaches greatly differ and often avoid the too-frequent discounting trap many retailers have fallen into. The evergreen products many digitally-native brands sell also helps them sell more at full prices.  does not make them susceptible to frequent discounting to clear product. For example, in during the 2017 Thanksgiving season, Glossier participated in the industry’s widespread discounting programs but simplified the process, giving consumers 20% off all products and offering free shipping. This discount was considered an offshoot since this is usually the only sale the brand runs

This strategy is well-aligned to the original purpose of sales, which were meant to encourage additional shopping during specific periods of time, rather than getting shoppers addicted to endless discounts. While the gifting space has changed significantly in the last decade, the next one will only be more erratic. Players across the entire ecosystem need to not just keep up, but stay ahead of the pack. A significant amount of money hands in the balance.