Boosting your brand through gifting

POSTED BY Kim Van Elkan on Feb 17, 2016

How can you make your brand feel special? I recently shared my thoughts on "gifting" with Packaging News.


A gift says as much about the giver as it does about the recipient. What do your gifting editions say about your brand? Do they mark you out as creative, fresh and relevant? Or do they look like everyone else’s gifts?

There is so much that can be done with gifts. In many ways they are an under-used aspect of the marketing toolkit, but it can be hard for over-worked and under-pressure marketers to find the tie, space and inspiration needed to come up with the right idea for the gift edition. Here then are a few thoughts to inspire you.

Every day is somebody’s birthday

Christmas may be the big focus on the gifting calendar, but it is very far from being the only time that we give presents. Right now, someone, somewhere is offering a birthday gift or an anniversary memento, a trinket for a new home, a new job, or a new baby. There are very few people who only buy presents in December.

The requirement may be seasonal – why are chocolate brands the only ones to really maximise the opportunity that is Easter? – or it may not be. Either way, simply by thinking beyond the obvious times of year for gifting you can open up a whole new range of possibilities for your brand to become a gift.

Removing the risk

Seeing gifting as a year-round programme rather than a one-off exercise also helps mitigate one of the main obstacles to successful gifting: fear of expensive failure. It’s always a risk to do something really new and unusual, and brands can therefore be reluctant to spend money on a crazy experiment, which may prove hugely profitable – or may fall flat.

The result tends to be a lot of half-baked compromises: slightly different packaging or products, with very little expenditure and even less to show for it. Yet if special gift packs are designed with the whole year, rather than just that frenetic Christmas segment, in mind, some of the risk is removed. What might not work for a parent shopping for kids’ Christmas gifts could well prove perfect when that parent needs to celebrate a colleague’s promotion, or take a gift to a housewarming.

Broader benefits

And the benefits are much wider than that. Special editions of any kind are a chance to enhance the loyalty of customers you already have and broaden your customer base; if done really well, they are a PR opportunity, too. To give an example: we know that the Marmite fan is a quirky and opinionated individual; the world knows that students, living away from home for the first time, need easy sustenance. What could be better than a Marmite survival pack?
This is not a Christmas gift, necessarily: it could be a ‘Good Luck at University’ gift. And the possibilities are endless, from an Emergency Box (with rice cake and branded cutlery) to a cocktail set… or even jewellery. These are gifts that don’t even require that the recipient be a Marmite fan: they are quirky, enticing brand strengtheners, whether you’re a Marmite Lover – or a Marmite Hater.

Upping the cool quotient

A clever brand will take its brand essence and expand that out, building affection as well as upping the cool quotient. If something works, why not take it to the next level? So, our collector’s editions of Vaseline have proved hugely popular: there is no reason why a Queen Bee special edition Vaseline, presented in a black-and-yellow vanity case or clutch bag, would not prove more popular still. Everyone loves a Jammie Dodger biscuit: why not advertise that fact and build on it, via mugs or aprons – or something as simple as a really beautifully designed Jammie Dodger biscuit tin with retro appeal?

No pain, no gain...

There are huge opportunities here, to engage with purchasers and drive sales, but also to make a brand more premium – after all, a gift should be more special than an everyday purchase.

Done well, a gift edition can encourage a reappraisal of your brand. A clever reimagining of a familiar concept can even get the consumer exclaiming with surprise. So when people reach for their tin of Campbells soup, don’t just pair it with a mug, give the consumer the opportunity to make their own loaf of bread to dunk in the hot, feel good soup. Even better, suggest that they actually use the bread as a bowl to pour the soup into? And what about PG Tips and those famous monkeys? Don’t just give monkeys, give the consumer a chance to bake their own cookies and enjoy with a cuppa with the family. Perfect brand synergy, a chance to reinforce brand personality and bring a family together at the same time.

But make a really imaginative effort, ensure your idea is not so seasonal that you’re putting all your eggs in one seasonal basket, and a truly special edition can be the gift that keeps on giving.

WRITTEN BY Kim Van Elkan

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