Gift Baskets: The Love And Hate Of Them

Today my monologue centers around a phenomena that I personally don’t have an affinity for but, for some reason, seems to inexplicably allow both purchasers and receivers to be momentarily blinded by the actual value of the product that they’re giving or receiving: The Gift Basket.

These things are a work of genius. Why? Because the effort of constructing them is typically (more on the ‘typically’ bit further on) not proportional to the value then placed upon them. And this is the key idea behind this post.

Let’s begin with me, because I’m Narcissistic that way. Last year for Christmas, I received a very thoughtful mini gift basket from a co-worker. It was Simpsons-themed (and it showed he was paying attention to what I liked), and appeared to be chock full of fun stuff. When I opened it, instead of just appreciating the gift (which I truly did, let it be known) I began to analyze the contents. Specifically, because there was a price tag still on the bottom that this individual had missed and subsequently not removed. As I deconstructed the thing, I realized that what it contained could be purchased at any local grocery store for about three dollars. The disconnect began and ended with the ‘added value’ of brand content (The Simpsons) and presentation (lots of colorful cellophane, paper, and other stuff.) It really was a wonderous little package.

I didn’t think too much more about it until about three weeks ago when began running their ‘Black Friday’ deals. Over the course of the days that unfolded, numerous gift baskets came up at special, “discounted” pricing. Out of curiosity, I checked many of them out. And – to a one – they all contained a small amount of product in proportion to the price – discounted or not. The difference in many of these was that they brought together an odd assortment of things otherwise difficult to put together (the decade-centric, retro candy boxes) or had a gorgeous presentation that would ultimately be discarded moments after opening (the wine & cheese baskets and the bath & body baskets).

The craziest thing of all, to the pragmatist in me, was that folks can’t seem to get enough of them. And this intrigued me further.

On the converse side of things, I have also seen a DIFFERENT sort of gift basket tactic. This one I will call the ‘huge monetary value, low presentation value’ type. These typically bundle a number of items that the vendor needs to get rid of. It’s either overstock, discontinued, or a brand they are no longer going to carry. They put these baskets together to ‘bundle in’ slow movers. Then, they figure the MAXIMUM retail value of all the items, and tout that number, while putting a far lower, “Special”, price on the whole affair. And – voila! – instant bargain!

But is it really? Maybe if I had hair to use hair products on, or used make up, then sure. *(These are just two examples that come to mind when I consider this method of marketing). The point for you – as the seller – isn’t always to create a reality. Rather, it is to create a perceived reality that your customers will espouse.

For example: In the movie ‘Sneakers’ (a droll geek favorite, by the way) there is a conversation being had by Ben Kingsley and Robert Redford. They are hanging out near a Cray Supercomputer (awesome), and discussing perception versus reality. One mentions that if the false perception of banks failing can be perpetrated successfully on the public at large, their response will be to pull all of their money out of said banks – thereby making the once perceived reality a hard reality in fact. And it’s a genius hypothesis. I realize that this might all sound harsh and callous. I guess it sort of is. But it’s also marketing, at its core. So, here’s what I can offer, in conclusion:

Gift baskets work. The key seems to be to bundle intuitively or make them glitter with the awe-inspiring beauty of a frosty winter morning or a Miss America Pageant contestant. People seem drawn to give something that does, in fact, look gorgeous and that they don’t have to wrap. This fact has value to them. The problem that you face is figuring out how to create a combination that has the maximum profit margins with the minimum amount of work. I’m not saying be lazy – I’m suggesting that you be strategic.

This sort of marketing tactic is not only limited to holidays, or gift-giving, as we have seen discussed above. It can also play on a customer’s sense of value while you are afforded a way to blow out slow-moving or stagnant stock. This type is a win-win, if you can find a way to balance the value of the contents to the potential purchaser, while also affording yourself some marginal profit on items that just won’t move.

Don’t think it’s for you? Perhaps not. But I would encourage every one of you who reads this, and has a product line, to try it. After Christmas, hit the clearance sales. Look for things that sparkle, are unique, or will facilitate a good presentation for this experiment. Then, find stock that has been around since the Reagan administration, or that your over-zealous employees inexplicably decided to buy three cases of, and put them together in a pleasing manner. I can >ALMOST< guarantee that you’ll be amazed with the results.

And – if you do go through with this (and good for you for trying it!) let us know how it goes!

Release your creative beast.


~ by digitalninjasmedia on December 5, 2011.

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