Food Gifting Occasion Innovation

Food Gifting Occasion Innovation

The food gifting market continues to grow moderately: Packaged Facts revealed in the report Food Gifting in the U.S.: Consumer and Corporate, 6th Edition that the company expects sales to rise by 4.1% in 2018. Among major growth drivers, usage occasion innovation is providing more consumers more reasons to give the gift of food to themselves or to someone else.

To be sure, the winter holidays remain a food gifting mainstay: some 54% of those who have purchased food gifts for others in the last 12 months have done so for the winter holidays. And birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day remain popular food gifting occasions. Everyday gifting occasions also resonate. Some 23% of those purchasing food gifts for others have done so to say thank you, for example.

New Opportunities for Reinvention and Expansion

Given the outsized importance major holidays and tradition play in their market, food gifting marketers must continue inventing and reinventing food gifts and to keep a watchful eye for ways to broaden holiday-related purchase rationales. Lindt helps show the way. For Valentine’s Day, Lindt spun the long-held assumptions about holiday participants on its head, framing Valentine’s Day as a way “to share love,” giving it room to market “Galentine’s Day.” By pairing chocolates with craft beer, Chuao Chocolatier blurs traditional lines, including more males as target recipients in the bargain. Meanwhile, EHChocolatier markets Halloween chocolate for the adults in the house. Each marketer succeeds in expanding on occasions for use.

Occasion expansion doesn’t stop there. With culinary botanicals, Harry & David seamlessly blends the floral category with the food category, filling a market niche and helping to create a new product category. Meanwhile a raft of chocolate marketers are positioning chocolate products as giftable snacks, and Chuao Chocolatier even offers a line of indulgent breakfast options, breaking into new dayparts. And who needs an occasion, when making, eating or learning about the product becomes the occasion? Tours, classes, and sponsored events provide the means to do so.

Indeed, industry innovation may be at a peak, driven not only by occasion expansion but also by healthy indulgence, sustainability and fair trade, story telling, celebrity, aspirational experiences, gourmet and artisan, customization and personalization, and (of course) tradition.

The result is a market that remains steadily bound to major occasions where food gifting has found a consistent home, while moving beyond seasonal reliance and opening up more ways to court the younger consumers needed to keep it healthy.

-- by David Morris, market research analyst