Gift giving is an enormous opportunity for brands. The size of the gift merchandise market is $1 trillion. Consumers spend $695 billion on winter holiday gifts alone. The market for business gifts is also booming and could reach $125 billion. At a time of year when many consumer products are gifted, brands are searching for a competitive advantage. They want gift recipients to become future buyers. Plus, they want gift givers to feel that they’ve chosen the perfect gift.

The best gifts delight both the giver and the receiver. The brand benefits as well. For existing customers, gifting strengthens brand identification. For prospective customers, gifting leads to brand discovery and, hopefully, future purchases. The giver of a gift becomes a brand ambassador. The recipient of a gift gets what amounts to a free product sample. Emotional marketing can influence the decision to buy a gift. However, it’s emotion-first gifting that drives the optimal gift giving experience.

Emotional Marketing and Emotion-First Gifting

Emotional marketing is a proven technique that encourages people to notice, remember, share, and buy. By appealing to deeply-held feelings, this type of marketing creates an emotional connection that leads to an action. Emotion-first gifting, the giving and receiving of gifts that spark an emotional connection, also elicits a powerful response. These Limbic Sparks™, as Kevin Perlmutter of Limbic Brand Evolution calls them, increase desire, loyalty, and engagement with a brand.

During the age of COVID-19, Perlmutter recently told Voice Express, people are “fatigued by isolation”.  They are also especially hungry for “emotional release”. Emotion-first gifting can meet this need and has deep roots and a bright future. Gift giving may pre-date even barter as the earliest form of commerce. The potlach, a traditional gift-giving feast among the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, reaffirmed social connections and established a sense of reciprocity. Today, an explosion in on-line shopping makes it easier than ever to send a gift – if the giver leads with the heart.

The Evolution of Personalized Gifting       

Personalized gifting is no longer about buying someone a product with a recipient’s name or initials. Today, on-line companies like SmartGift are discovering and optimizing consumer intent. The giver selects an item such as shirt, the recipient specifies preferences such as style and color, and the giver then pays for the purchase. GiftNow, another pioneering business, lets the giver send a gift notification to a recipient, who can modify or exchange the product before it ships.

Both SmartGift and GiftNow provide welcome alternatives to gift cards that are convenient to give but that may feel impersonal to the recipient.  Yet, there’s more to personalized gifting than offering defined choices within narrower parameters. By applying the principles of emotion-first gifting and learning from a heartfelt case study, brands can meet the needs of givers and receivers while encouraging everyone to feel the Limbic Sparks™ that Kevin Perlmutter seeks to ignite.

Emotion-First Gift Giving Case Study

Build-a-Bear Workshop®, a U.S. retailer that sells customizable teddy bears that are offered with voice-recorded messages, lets consumers record what they want to play-back when a teddy bear “talks”. The company, which uses voice-enabled chips from Voice Express, recently experienced a 299% increase in ecommerce sales at a time when many of its 359 retail locations were shuttered by COVID-19.

When a mother in Ohio wanted to give a present to her son, she took emotion-first gifting to a higher level. The six-year old boy was battling leukemia. The recent loss of his grandfather, Bubba Lou, to COVID-induced complications, left him emotionally devastated. To comfort his spirts, the mother combined some old voice mails from the grandfather and added them to the audio chip inside a Build-a-Bear. She even named the bear Bubba Lou and dressed the stuffed animal in clothes like the grandfather wore.

What’s Next?

As Kevin Perlmutter of Limbic Brand Evolution says, “brands should exist to make people’s lives better.  The most important question for any brand leader is ‘How do you want people to feel?’” If you’re ready to embrace emotional marketing and explore emotion-first giving, ask Voice Express for more information about our voice-enabled technologies. To get started, contact us.

Voice Express Corp.  Our self-playing media lets consumers and brands communicate in a direct and unmediated fashion. We also provide high-impact interactive experiences that engage, inform and invite multiple impressions and lasting affinity.

Limbic Brand Evolution We develop foundational brand strategy, rooted in emotional insights, that activates how a brand comes to life through offerings, messaging, experiences and identity. We have deep experience with large global brands, and very often work with small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofits. Also, we bring big-brand experience and expertise without big-agency overhead. We guide brand evolutions of any size and turn emotional insights into a competitive advantage.