The Fine Art of Delicious Gift Giving

Discussion
Aug 30, 2010
Bernice Hurst

By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire

It isn’t just men whose
hearts can be reached through their stomachs. Increasing numbers of food gifts
are being purchased, according to a report, Food
Gifting in the U.S.
, from Packaged Facts.

Specifically, the report points
out that consumer food gifts grew by 9.6 percent, to $14.9 billion, between
2007 and 2009. This compares with an increase of 7.4 percent in total consumer
gift purchases during the same period and a reduction of 3.4 percent in gift
card sales during 2009 alone. Corporate gifts have also increased slightly.

The
main driver cited is gift-packaged speciality foods other than chocolate and
candy. Packaged Facts’ publisher, Don Montuori, explained that speciality
foods are the "main component of food gifts and baskets" because
they are "unique, personal, indulgent, convenient and fun." He
pointed out that they are also sure to be used and qualify as affordable luxury,
making them ideal gifts during difficult economic times.

The report added, "Continuing
consumer interest in organic, natural and gourmet foods, as well as more sales
of ‘healthy’ gift baskets,
are also fueling specialty food gift purchases." In all categories, high
quality seemed to be the most important criteria.

As for where consumers go,
online food gift retailers accounted "for
about a third of the market last year" compared with nearly 50 percent
held by brick-and-mortar retailers.

Discussion Questions: Should retailers do more to promote food as gifts? Are
they making the most of this opportunity?

[Author’s commentary] Considering the range of products available in-store,
there may be greater opportunities for gift combinations that attract customers
for whatever special occasion they have coming up. There is also room for lateral
thinking. More than a few companies in the U.K. offer food parcels for students,
for example. Online retailers may have the advantage in terms of dressing things
up to look pretty but they certainly don’t have the variety immediately
on hand available at supermarkets.

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12 Comments on "The Fine Art of Delicious Gift Giving"


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Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

This is a terrific opportunity to grow the business and reinforce the relationship with the customer. People only buy products for one or two reasons: solve a problem or feel good. Food represents a positive perfect storm in that food gift baskets can satisfy both reasons for buying any good or service. In addition, bricks and mortar retailers can use the creative positioning of gift baskets as a way to reinforce their brand and create differential advantage.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
10 years 8 months ago

Gift giving as a solution for supermarkets is a great untapped source of not just providing gifts, but to connect on even a more personal level with their customers.

Supermarkets stumbled through wedding cakes, floral departments, catering and even simple things like lunch sandwich programs. One of the considerations for some of this stumbling is to trying to create a solution within the confines of the current model. Drive to the store, get out of the car, track down an employee, stand on line…. and on and on.

The gift giving solution may need to have a different model. Order on my phone app, pay electronically, customize messages, interaction without leaving my home or office on a location that is looking to solve my gift giving needs. This can be anything from gift baskets to floral to catering to wreaths for the holidays.

The key may be to create a shopping experience that is laser focused on gifts and not chicken breasts on sale for the weekend.

Alison Chaltas
Guest
Alison Chaltas
10 years 8 months ago
In today’s back-to-basics world, food gifts are an obvious solution for all kinds of occasions. We’re too busy to cook (and many don’t know how) and our homes are full of gifted stuff we don’t need (or even want). The idea is so not new. Think back to the days of neighbors delivering casseroles to congratulate or apologize or kids baking cookies to thank a favorite teacher. The idea fits with our society’s increasing need for comfort, health and being good to our environment. Those retailers that figure out how to create delicious, practical, healthy food gifts that can be delivered with appealing presentation will face a terrific shopper sampling and loyalty opportunity. Gifting creates incremental trips and transactions at very important times of the year. The key is getting beyond desserts, cheese and crackers and fruit baskets to understand what gifts options fit with your store brand. Shopper research plays a key role in creating differentiated gift programs. In this area both Fairway Market and Stew Leonard’s have greatly improved their gifting offerings. Delivering… Read more »
Joan Treistman
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

What I like best about food for gift giving is that any size fits all. It’s a great opportunity for the retailer to enhance the relationship with the buyer and the recipient of the gift.

There are also opportunities to create efficiencies with online purchasing and centralizing the fulfillment operation. Above all, the retailer can be a true “consultant” to the shopper by having a range of choices and categorizing them in a way consumers can use for selecting the best gift.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Retailers definitely should do more to promote food as gifts. Food is always appreciated, it’s for “right now,” and it can be enjoyed by more than just one person at one time. And for retailer’s perspectives if the food is “gifted” just right it also can be very profitable!

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Food as a gift giving item is primed to grow, especially this time of year. Let me propose two groups where the sales can be tremendous between now and the holiday season:
1 – Students going away to college for the first year. Food from home is a wonderful thought to help them get acclimated.
2 – Football season has a huge market potential from high school to college to professionals. Tailgating has become a big market with an incredibly large number of participants. Giving food to tailgate groups can be a welcome gift.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

This past Saturday afternoon, my wife and I redeemed a gift card at a local luxury grocer. The shopping experience was fun, and we came home with some good wine, prime steaks, fresh sushi, and beautiful produce that we quickly fashioned into a memorable dinner. What a great date night.

The whole experience suggests to me a simmering potential for food gifts way beyond boxed chocolates and bottles of wine. Fold in the rising popularity of television food programming, and you have a gourmet gifting opportunity that is redolent of potential. It’s up to retailers to articulate a marketing message.

Carlos Arambula
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

As mentioned in the comments above, the current back to basics economy favors foods as gifts. I believe retailers should be taking advantage of this opportunity by offering gift boxes or gift sacks with suggested “treats.” I also think manufacturers can participate by preparing gift packaging or in the introduction of new flavors and products.

How about a Tostitos or a Brat pack for tailgating? A wine and cheese “True Blood” viewing nosh kit?

This is simply about extending the gift beyond the bottle of wine to the cheese, fruit, snack and bakery aisles.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 8 months ago

I think this could be quite a lucrative opportunity, but having ordered some wine this summer that has been delayed to the point it may “cook” while in transit COULD be a piece that impacts the efficacy of the programs.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
10 years 8 months ago
Merchants should definitely do more to promote food gifts. For my clients, I often cite the potential in gift baskets, i.e., offering gift buyers the opportunity to shop the store for various gift basket items and then having staff assemble the goods in a nicely wrapped basket. Such a service can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, e.g., dropping off a list of basket items or the actual items and picking up the wrapped basket later, or allowing consumers to complete a basket list online for pick-up at the store or delivery to the recipient. That latter scenario also offers a chance for consumers to deliver fresh gift baskets to far away consumers by logging on to the site of a grocer located near the gift recipient. In the era of practical gifting (i.e., gift buyers being more savvy about how they spend their gifting dollars), food gifts make the grade. They’re practical in that they contain items that will get used. They’re practical in that, if delivered in a basket or tin, those… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 8 months ago
As some of your readers know, I’m a fan of chilidogs. (Email me for my self-awarded, world-famous, DocBanks championship chilidog recipe.) I buy my dogs from Allen Brothers online, not available in stores. I recommend these dogs as gifts. Unusual gifts, but gifts just the same. Trust me, it’s a great food gift. Who let the dogs out!? You! My brother and I grew up in Topeka, KS. Two of our favorite candies from back then are no longer available in stores but can be found online. I shipped a case of each to my bro. I’m in Cal and he’s in D.C., but it was like a homecoming. For a food hunter, the internet is prime territory. Retailers can ride this horse by promoting special offerings not available in their stores. But if it’s in the store, I recommend not featuring it online. For supermarkets, gift certificates are iffy. Redeem them for drain cleaner or toilet paper? Where’s the romance of gift-giving there? Supermarket gifts must be specific, closely targeted, well thought out, and… Read more »
Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 8 months ago

The lack of food gift giving opportunities at many supermarkets represents lost sales. Consumers are looking for practical, fun and seasonal gift giving ideas. After all, not everyone wants to just give a gift card, even though they are very popular.

Gifts of food can be displayed in numerous locations around the store and on line to offer consumers “solutions” to everyday gift giving as well as those big occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, new baby, birthday, anniversary, etc. Gifts can also be paired with wine for an easy “dinner to go” gift idea. For cost conscious shoppers, retailers can provide advice on how to “make your own” gift basket using private label or local products for holidays or everyday occasions.

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