Gift giving is an act that predates civilisation. The act of giving gifts is both an expression of emotion and an opportunity to make a connection to celebrate an occasion, display appreciation, atonement or congratulations. Gift giving can also act as an alternative solution for brands to engage with their audience and clients during and post COVID-19.
Brands across the globe are feeling the strains of COVID-19 and it's negative effect on revenue. The race is on for businesses to pivot their approach and offerings, while adapting marketing and advertising in an economic way to reach your audience and make a lasting impression.
An alternative solution
Despite the challenges of 2020, brands are still innovating to find meaningful ways to interact with their markets. Brands, both big and small, are using customised gifts and merchandise to accompany external communications to add a human element and physical engagement to enliven a digital event and to provide bespoke brand experiences.
In the corporate world, gift giving has long been an extremely important and valuable marketing tool. Brands use gifting to reach their audience; to introduce their brand to a new market and generate new sales leads, boost brand awareness, express gratitude to existing clients for ongoing loyalty, mark an occasion (i.e. a memento from a physical event), celebrate milestones such as a brands’ 10 year anniversary or a 1,000,000th customer, and as a promotional product (i.e. gifting branded merchandise on everyday items such as a mug, keyring, or pen).
Gifting really works
Many well known publications state: gifts and promotional products work. A 2016 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) explains the effectiveness of promotional products. According to the study, most people keep promotional products for an average of eight months. In short, this means your gift or promotional item is in front of your customer for a lot longer than a simple PPC ad or pop-up on a website.
Social media giant TikTok is paving the way for gifting during COVID-19. Their initiative has been marketed as a gift for anyone who ‘may need a simple boost whether that be creative inspiration for a video, exercise ideas and ways to support their mental health during this time of crisis’. They even partnered with brands such as Adobe, Pandora and FitPlan - a clever alignment strategy.
With COVID-19 due to greatly impact on the future of retail, brands may now want to reach customers to create a brand presence, in the case that they will not have a physical retail store to welcome their clientele back into. Alternatively, they may look to reach customers that perhaps aren’t spending now but will surely and excitedly be spending later. Gifts can be used to tell your brand story, redirect your clients to online stores or start the narrative for your new business path, if you are working on your e-commerce presence.
Fast Company curated a DIY Coronavirus Care Package with thoughtful gift ideas for this period. Even celebrities are using this time to develop their own merchandise to sell with profits to be donated to charities or causes (the latest entrepreneur and billionaire, Kylie Jenner).
How can you approach gifting?
Whether you find a single tangible gift to brand - or send out a gift, or gift hamper, in thoughtfully designed and beautifully branded packaging, there are so many options for gifts that are relevant to the times.
- Gifts for the family
- Gifts to occupy individuals in the home
- Personal safety or hygiene equipment
- Mindfulness and mental health related materials
- Educational tools
- Plants or decorative items for the home (plants are selling at an all time high in the U.S.)
It is important to note that in these times our team, at Sense, have a focus on making eco-friendly choices for the future. We work with trusted key suppliers to develop and produce sustainable products and packaging wherever possible.
Brands can produce a bespoke product or prototype of their own or support local business/es - another hugely important gesture for the times.
Delivered with kindness
As so many people are doing it tough, the small act of kindness to share gifts will prove both a simple technique but more so, a lasting impression of surprise and delight to your customers. Reminding individuals that your brand is thinking of them, values the relationship and generate some brand love.
A golden age for experiential marketing is still to come, as we, social creatures, crave connection in the physical world. Gifting is a simple and effective way to reach your customer in the interim and look to emerge together, stronger on the other side.
How do you stand out from the crowd? What are examples of gifts that your audience wants to receive? What cost effective items are not currently over saturated? What sends a strong brand message?