Food Gifting in the U.S.: Consumer and Corporate, 6th Edition
U.S. food gifting is being shaped by shifts in generational preferences and in ordering preferences favoring online marketers, as well as the need to maintain relationships with purchasers across occasions while deepening relationships beyond those occasions. And across generations and incomes, choice, competition and value converge to create strong consumer expectations: food gifters demand high quality, trust and value; food gift marketers that cannot deliver on freshness, quality and organizational excellence will see gifters go elsewhere.
Factors to Market Growth
Innovation: The Big Picture
Products that can deliver on exclusivity and artisanship can empower food gifting brands and help protect them against the specter of commoditization and constant discounting. In this regard, many market participants are clearly delivering, as suggested by ample evidence highlighted in the Food Gifting Innovation chapter of this report. More broadly, the high degree of market innovation has been a key to continued growth.
Building Brand Power
Food gifting marketers that have maintained and even built brand power are building moats around their businesses that also protect them against commoditization and irrelevance. Food gifting marketers using softer sales approaches, such as those featuring recipes, offer an enticing alternative to constant discount offers. Story telling can enhance brand power, by helping to create a sense of authenticity and uniqueness, to impart knowledge and build trust, and to convey why a product or brand is exclusive. This dovetails with curation, which helps build a bulwark to protect against price-driven shopping habits. Imbuing products with gourmet and artisan qualities heightens brand power further. In aggregate, this explains why high-end, boutique food gifting marketers are sought after.
Major holidays’ market maturity translates to the need to continue inventing and reinventing food gifts and to keep a watchful eye for ways to broaden holiday-related purchase rationales. Food gift marketers have pushed further into everyday gifting, which provides more blue sky and is continuing to market growth. Opportunity extends to product category expansion, cross-brand and cross-category innovation, and new product categories.
Corporate Food Gifting
Food gifting marketers have continued to hone their corporate gifting strategies to target not only the winter holidays but also an expanded slate of opportunities. Packaged Facts survey results suggest that work anniversaries and thank you gestures also generate food gifting sales. Tax changes are a wildcard that could boost 2018 corporate food gifting growth beyond that forecasted by Packaged Facts.
Navigating the Generational Divide
The food gifting market remains buoyed by higher-HH income consumers and is heavily dependent on older consumers. However, keys to solving the omni-channel food gift purchase equation include navigating a generational shift in food gifting ordering preferences and developing a strategy to grow with Amazon without being cannibalized by it. Tapping Millennials means tapping the events important to them, ensuring that food gifting marketers in the habit of servicing less digitally-dependent customers transition to courting younger consumers more squarely in the digital realm, and turning some historical gifting associations on their heads.
This report covers the U.S. market for food gifting. For this report, food gifts are defined as food items that are packaged in a way that is suitable for gifting. Food gifts must be purchased; a food item prepared at home and given to someone is not included. There are two types of food gifts: 1) Gift-packaged candy – includes boxed chocolates, other gift-packaged chocolate and non-chocolate gift-packaged candy; and 2) Specialty food gifts – gift-packaged foods other than candy/chocolate. Food gifts range from baskets of treats to eat while watching football to food gift baskets at Christmas or birthdays. Food gifts can be purchased for any occasion or no occasion, for someone else or for oneself. While some food gifts, particularly assortments, may include beverages such as coffee or alcohol, those products as stand-alone gifts are excluded from this report. Food baskets refer to pre-packaged assortments of foods and beverages, not consumer-assembled baskets of these items.
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