The State of Gifting in 2019

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learn about the state of gifting in 2019

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There are many gift-giving occasions throughout the year, from birthdays to weddings, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and of course, the holidays. At Edible Arrangements®, we know there’s nothing more heart-warming than finding the perfect gift for a friend or loved one and knowing that you’ve brought a smile to their face. Because gift-giving trends come and go, we wanted to take a look at the current state of gifting to find out what gifts are the most coveted, what gifts are most likely to be returned, and other useful tidbits that can help make your shopping experience a bit less stressful (and a lot more fun!).

Why Edible Arrangements® Gifts are the Ideal Gifts for Any Occasion

When you find yourself searching for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one for several occasions throughout the year, it gets more difficult each time. You want to find something that’s unique, but you’ve already covered all the usual bases. Or, maybe you’re searching for a great gift for that person who seemingly has everything.

It’s no secret: gift-giving can be incredibly challenging. But it should be fun, not frustrating.

Edible Arrangements® offers a variety of incredibly delicious gifts perfect for any occasion, from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day, birthdays, and more. According to Google Trends data for the past 12 months, search interest for fruit arrangements spikes in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, with a smaller surge in interest in the week before Christmas:

Fruit arrangements search trends

Screenshot via Google Trends

For Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, of course, flower arrangements have long been a traditional gift. Fruit arrangements are a fun and unique alternative, with bright, cheerful, and delicious treats that engage a variety of senses: sight, smell, and taste.

A delicious fresh fruit arrangement makes the perfect anniversary gift, birthday gift, or even just because gift. Choose from tasteful (and tasty) arrangements with fresh fruits like pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, strawberries, and more.

For someone with a sweet tooth, we have a variety of arrangements with delectable chocolate Dipped Fruit™ like pineapple, strawberries, and bananas. Or, send a box of Dipped Fruit™ to brighten someone’s day, or a gift set with a fresh fruit arrangement, a box of Dipped Fruit™, and a bright, cheerful balloon to cover all the bases. The possibilities are endless!

Say congratulations with a fruit gift from Edible Arrangements® or let someone special know you appreciate them with one of our delicious thank you gifts. Need to say “I’m sorry” or “I love you”? No matter the need or the occasion, an Edible® gift is a gift they’ll remember forever.

Beyond the versatility and universal appeal of fruit arrangements, they’re also convenient. Don’t let distance get in the way of your gift-giving plans. Order online from Edible Arrangements® for fast delivery right to your gift recipient’s door. Or, stop in to one of our 1,200 (and growing) Edible® Stores to grab a delicious smoothie or treat while you pick up the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for someone special.

We’re partial to fruit arrangements, naturally, as the go-to gift no matter the occasion. But we wanted to get a more in-depth look at the state of gifting as a whole, so we took a look at some other types of gifts as well.

The Trendiest Gift Categories, Based on Search Data

We took a look at Google Trends data to find out what gift categories are most searched-for. Naturally, the biggest spikes in search interest occur around the holiday shopping season, so we looked at data over a five-year period and compared Google Trends scores from December 2013 to December 2017. We found that search interest remained largely the same for many gift categories, while interest has grown for a few and declined for others.

The biggest surge in search interest, based on our research, is for gift cards:

Gift cards search trends

Screenshot via Google Trends

As you can see, the biggest spikes in the 5-year trend graph are right around the holiday shopping season. Search demand for “gift cards” was highest in December 2015 and December 2016 with a Trends Score of 100. In December 2017, there was a slight drop, with a peak score of 97.

Next up in terms of search demand growth is tech gifts:

Tech gifts search trends

Screenshot via Google Trends

Now, tech gifts arguably have an advantage over other gift categories. Manufacturers have learned to time new product releases strategically to capitalize on the momentum of the holiday shopping season and supply and demand in general. That doesn’t just apply to tech gifts, of course, but companies tend to release the latest tech gadgets during the lead-up to the holiday shopping season when demand is strong. So, some of this search interest is likely stemming from shoppers in search of the newest tech toys.

Still, when we look at 5-year Google Trends data, it’s clear that interest has increased in tech gifts, with a Trends Score of 66 in December 2013 compared to a score of 86 in December 2017 – a growth of 20 points. And, interest peaked at a score of 100 in both December 2016 and December 2017. Shoppers also search for things like “best tech gifts 2017” as well as for specific product categories, such as “smartwatch,” and products like:

  • Apple watch
  • GoPro
  • Amazon Echo/Amazon Alexa
  • Google Home
  • Nintendo Switch

Interestingly, another related search term, “gadget gifts,” saw a 24-point decline in search demand over the same period:

Gadget gifts search trends

Screenshot via Google Trends

Other gift categories with an increase in search interest, when comparing Trend Scores from December 2013 to scores from December 2017, include personal care gifts (9-point growth) and experience gifts (6-point growth).

For a number of gift categories, we found little change when comparing the two Trend Scores (5 points or less change in either direction):

  • Food gifts
  • Kitchen gifts
  • Clothing gifts
  • Flower arrangements
  • Flower gifts

For other gift categories, there was a drop in interest when comparing Google Trends Scores from December 2013 to scores from December 2017:

  • Outdoors gifts (44-point decrease)
  • Sports gifts (31-point decrease)
  • Jewelry gifts (22-point decrease)
  • Home décor gifts (20-point decrease)
  • Personalized gifts (15-point decrease)
  • Spa gifts (10-point decrease)

Of course, not everyone who is on a gift-shopping mission is going to use the “gifts” qualifier when searching for ideas. But when looking at Google Trends data without this qualifier, it’s impossible to separate searches with gift-giving intent from those who are just looking for sports memorabilia, home décor, and other items for another purpose.

What are the Most-Desired Gifts?

We surveyed 500 people using Google Surveys to learn more about gift preferences. 45.3% of respondents said they’d be most excited to receive experience gifts from a spouse or romantic partner compared to other gifts like jewelry and sports and outdoors gear. 28.8% of respondents said they’d be most excited to receive experience gifts from a friend or family member (such as an aunt or uncle, brother or sister) compared to other types of gifts.

We also asked about gifting to co-workers. 44.2% of respondents said they’d be most excited to receive a gift card from a co-worker, followed by 18.2% who said they’d be most excited to receive food gifts such as candy, fruit (like an Edible Arrangements® gift), and cookies:

Preferred gifts from coworkers

We also asked what gifts respondents would consider inappropriate to give to a co-worker. Unsurprisingly, 31.9% said they’d consider jewelry an inappropriate gift for a co-worker.

Least-desired gifts from coworkers

Sentimental Gifts Hit the Mark

A study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, published in July 2017 by the Journal of Consumer Psychology, found that gift recipients would often prefer to receive sentimental gifts, such as a framed photo of the giver and the recipient together during a memorable moment, rather than superficial gifts that match their interests and preferences.

But gift-givers tend to opt for superficial, interest-matching gifts more often than recipients would like. The researchers explain, “This asymmetry appears to be driven by givers feeling relatively certain that preference‐matching gifts will be well‐liked by recipients, but relatively uncertain that the same is true for sentimentally valuable gifts.”

Gift Recipients Prefer Practical Gifts Over Desirable Gifts

An older study conducted by researchers from Yale, published in March 2014 by the Journal of Consumer Psychology, looked at the tradeoffs between desirability and practicality when it comes to gift-giving. Researchers found that gift-givers tend to focus on the recipient and opt for more “desirable” gifts – like a gift certificate for a fancy restaurant that’s an hour away – compared to more “practical” gifts – like a gift certificate to a lower-rated restaurant that’s just five minutes away.

These more desirable gifts often don’t have the impact givers would like, however, as recipients tend to prefer more practical gifts.

Experiential Gifts are More Socially Connecting

Researchers from the University of Toronto looked at the impact of “experience gifts,” or gifting an experience rather than a material item, in a 2016 study. What did they find? Experience gifts tend to evoke more emotion, and as a result, they build stronger social connections.

While 78% of respondents in one survey said they most recently purchased material gifts, that’s not always a bad thing. Based on findings from four different studies, researcher Cindy Chan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Department of Management and the Rotman School of Management, suggests that if you’re considering a material gift, highlight the experience it provides. Giving a friend an album from a band or artist that you recently enjoyed in concert together, for instance, can evoke the same emotional response as the experience that you shared.

Emotionally evocative gifts can have the same relationship-strengthening effects, such as a framed photograph like we mentioned earlier, a joke-of-the-day calendar, or even engraved jewelry with a sentimental message.

What Gifts Do People Give Most?

To find out what gifts shoppers are buying most, we looked at sales data from the holiday shopping season. According to The NPD Group, shoppers during the 2017 holiday shopping season opted for a mix of the hot new items plus classic staples, with “an increased emphasis on comfort, home, and generally enhancing one’s lifestyle,” says NPD’s Chief Industry Advisor, Marshal Cohen. The top-performing general merchandise industries for the 2017 season were small home appliances and prestige beauty.

Other insights from NPD:

  • The largest dollar growth in apparel sales was in the women’s segment. Sales of dresses, sweats and active bottoms, and outerwear were the primary drivers of this growth.
  • Among toys, playset dolls and collectibles had the strongest sales.
  • In consumer technology, home automation, home monitoring and security, stereo headphones, mobile power, and smart entry were hot items during the 2017 shopping season.
  • The most popular athletic footwear items were sport leisure and sport lifestyle footwear.
  • In prestige beauty, fragrances and makeup led the way.
  • Multi-cookers, air fryers, robotic vacuums, and oral care appliances topped sales among small home appliances.

What are the Most-Returned Gifts?

Now that we have an idea of what gifts people are buying most, let’s take a look at how well those gifts go over with recipients. We’ve touched on the studies that found that recipients tend to prefer sentimental and practical gifts above, but returns data can give us even more insight into the gifts that go over well and those that don’t.

In an article published in the first few days of 2018, the New York Post reveals the most-returned gifts from the 2017 holiday season:

  • Battery-powered ride-on toys (e.g., Power Wheels)
  • Barbie dolls
  • Star Wars figures
  • Blenders
  • Coffee makers
  • Microwaves
  • Designer handbags

DealNews says that overall, one in three people will return unwanted gifts, accounting for almost $70 billion in merchandise in 2018. The most-frequently returned gifts, according to this report, include:

  • Graphic t-shirts for kids
  • Novelty toys
  • Specialty kitchenware
  • Hardware
  • Recreation (such as hoverboards)

So, while small home appliances were sought-after gifts by givers, it seems recipients weren’t quite as enthused.

A whopping 54% of all holiday gifts were either exchanged or returned following the 2016 holiday season. People magazine, reporting on data from GiftNow, says the most-exchanged gifts included candy, gum, and chocolate. Toddler clothes and sweaters landed second and third for the “most-altered” gifts among women, meaning they were exchanged for other sizes, colors, or similar items rather than returned for credit or cash. Among men, dress shirts and athletic apparel topped the most-exchanged gifts.

If you’re looking to score a win, the least-returned gifts among women (according to People) were:

  • Watches
  • Fine jewelry
  • Anti-aging skincare

And among men:

  • Ties
  • Wallets
  • Anti-aging skincare

Who’s pickier about their gifts? Contrary to what many probably assume, it’s actually men. Nearly half of women (48%) typically keep the gifts they’ve received as-is, compared to 37% of men. And overall, 22% of men’s gifts are exchanged, compared to 19% of women’s gifts.

How the Digital World is Reshaping Gift-Giving

Consumers have lofty expectations when it comes to online shopping these days. More people are shopping on mobile (smartphones and tablets) than ever before, for instance, so retailers need to embrace the mobile-first consumer mindset. And despite the fact that shoppers typically spend 13 days considering a purchase, after they decide to buy, nearly half expect same-day or next-day delivery.

There’s also a rise in social influence when it comes to gift-giving. It’s possible to shop from social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest, for instance, and even send digital gifts like gift cards through Facebook.

Social influence on gift-giving

Screenshot via Think with Google

Shoppers are also looking for more help and guidance in shopping from retailers. About 40% of shoppers expect retailers to remember personal details like items they’ve purchased in the past, their sizes, and so on. They’re also turning to search to find gift ideas and inspiration. A shopper might start out looking for general gift ideas for a particular person (such as “something nice for my brother”). They might browse blogs and other resources and when they find an idea they like, they’ll search for more specific buying advice related to that item. Then, they’ll visit a retailer after they’ve decided on a specific brand or model to complete the purchase.

That’s why we make gift-giving simple at Edible Arrangements®. Not only do we offer a wide selection of delicious gifts, but we make it easy to find gift ideas designed for specific occasions – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, you name it. And, we meet your last-minute shopping needs with same-day store delivery until 5pm (local store time). In most areas, orders shipped by UPS are delivered the next day when ordered by 3pm (local store time) the day before. With a versatile selection of delicious, cheerful gifts that are sure to delight, Edible Arrangements® meets your gift-giving needs.

More Information on Gift-Giving Trends

Check out these articles for more information on the latest trends in gifting: