The modern holiday season isn’t just about showing your appreciation for friends and family with thoughtfully-chosen, beautifully-wrapped gifts–it’s now also a time to treat yourself. Whereas the thought of using the “season of giving” as an excuse to give to yourself was once considered a faux pas, the trend of self-gifting has bloomed over the last few holiday seasons. It’s now not only socially acceptable to do so, but often encouraged.
We, and other publishers, often talk about how busy and cluttered the holiday season is, making it that much more difficult for brands to catch the attention of their target audiences. But the experience is the same for consumers, too. The holiday season can feel like a mad rush between family gatherings, parties, shopping trips and more. So no wonder it feels good to reward yourself along the way.
So while buying something for yourself was not what the holiday splurge was originally meant to be about, that is where we find ourselves today. For marketers–and retail marketers in particular–understanding the reasons behind this consumer behavior can help inform new ways of breaking through the clutter this holiday season.
Self-Gifting Emerged Alongside
the “Holiday Sale”
Ever since the Great Recession of the late 2000s, many retailers have resorted to sales to move inventory. That’s when we started seeing stores discount popular items by 50% or more. But now, consumers have been trained to expect this deep discounting to start right after Halloween and have changed their shopping habits accordingly. This has made major shopping occasions, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, somewhat less compelling because consumers know they can get a good deal anytime throughout the holiday season.
The Implications of an eCommerce Mindset
According to Eric, the consumer shift towards self-gifting was heavily influenced by the adoption of eCommerce. He explained, “the advent of online shopping–and this is not a recent phenomenon but dates back now almost two decades–is [you have] access to what you want, when you want it. Gone are the days, on the fashion side of things where retailers told you, ‘here’s the new stuff for fall,’ and then ‘here’s the new stuff for spring,’ and you bought it when they put it out.”
Millennials Lead the Charge
This generation already has a reputation of being more spontaneous and self-indulgent–not to mention obsessed with the immediacy of the internet. For them, self-gifting is a natural part of the holidays; an earned reward for getting through another year. It’s also more likely to happen online among Millennials rather than in brick-and-mortar locations–a place with even less friction (and potential judgement) for adding an extra item for yourself to the shopping cart.
How Brands Embrace Self-Gifting During the Holidays
While we look forward to seeing how self-gifting comes to life this holiday season, it’s clear that consumers today are making their holiday purchases in more ways, and for more reasons, than ever before. Marketers should keep this trend in mind when creating their holiday messaging in order to engage and resonate consumers during all of their shopping trips.
Also, it’s never too late to brush up on the holiday trends already taking shape! In case you missed it, download Pandora’s 2017 Holiday Shopping Trends eBook full of need-to-know stats and learnings on when and where people do their holiday shopping and gift-giving.