3 simple rules to help brand marketers apply psychology principles to create the most successful gift sets.
By Sandra Creamer
Why do bad gifts happen to good people? It’s amazing how some of us are so bad at picking out gifts for others, and beauty products are no exception (soap on a rope, anyone?)
Until recently in the beauty category, fragrances were the top gifts. By expanding the role of gifting in the portfolio beyond seasonal, it can become a solid brand builder.
Beauty brands have been expanding the breadth of products that they promote as gift sets across skin, body care and men’s beauty — and consumers are responding, to the tune of $871MM in prestige – up +16% in 2012 from the same period in 2011.
In a move to diminish the practice of White Elephant Gift exchanges throughout the land, beauty brands (and frankly all categories) can help solve the problem of bad gifting by applying the principles of psychology to the practice of good branding through three simple rules.
Rule #1 – Breathe life into the right benefits.
Psychology studies have proven that more often than not, givers and receivers have a hard time understanding each other’s mindsets, meaning the giver usually doesn’t choose something the receiver will enjoy.
On the other hand, the NPD reports that more than 50% of consumers who use mass body care products once a week often give them as gifts, so beauty brands are smart to target their current consumer. The trick is to make it easy for current consumers to find a broadly appealing gift; that way the giver won’t have to guess (and mistake) what the receiver might want.
Brands can help by leveraging universal benefit visual language and on-pack selling copy more effectively. For example, recent Olay body care gift sets had design themes exemplified by the headlines “smoothing delights,” “simply beautiful” and “soothing moments,” launched in an aggressive gift set rollout during 2011 that spanned 24 sets across men’s and women’s beauty.
While some may argue these themes aren’t exciting, they work because they are on-brand and also address universally desired emotional and functional benefits through communication, which is key to succeeding with both parties. Not to mention that the snowflakes and magenta silk bow secondary pack also make it look more special.
Rule #2 – Don’t shy away from highlighting less expensive brands as part of gift sets.
There is now scientific proof that most people don’t care how much someone spends on their gift, they simply prefer to get something they would actually enjoy using.
Affordable beauty brands take note! Any mass skin care brand aimed at women can leverage the fact that glowing skin is the #1 benefit women desire.
Case in point: I just had a big birthday, and one of my dearest friends, who is neither cheap nor one who skimps out on things, gave me a St. Tropez “Party Perfect Glow Kit” that retails for $35 online (yes, I checked). Ultimately, I was grateful to have a way to get a sun-kissed glow safely from a gradual tan lotion, and have since bought the products on my own. The brand just gained a new consumer by offering an easy way for a current user to delight someone else with an affordable gift. Speaking of delight…
Rule #3 – Invest in the “delight transfer factor” through packaging.
The Journal of Experimental Psychology General found that the act of finding the perfect present gives the giver a greater sense of delight – more so than the emotional benefit the receiver gets.
I call this the “delight transfer factor” – the initial dopamine shot the giver has about the possible gift followed by the tail of positive emotion, and the subsequent desire to transfer this feeling to the receiver. A brand can hone in on this neurological trigger point by through visual and verbal brand assets. The key consideration is how to enhance the look and feel from every day to special occasion — and brands have permission to go to great lengths to achieve this and charge richly for it.
Case in point – prestige skin care brand La Prairie offers the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, normally priced at $410, as a gift set in a special box described as a “stunning and fiery crystal” sparkling blue and white mosaic case. La Prairie has more than doubled the price to $950.
It worked: this was a top-selling combination according to NPD. The decision on the design direction could easily be attributed to a dramatization of the benefit of luxurious experience and it complements the product positioning perfectly.
In conclusion, brand managers looking to grow gift set sales should know that conveying universally desired emotional and functional beauty benefits on packaging is much more important than getting someone to spend a lot on a gift set – though of course, the right glitzy present can work!
Too often, gift set development is an afterthought within an organization’s marketing department, demonstrated when CPG companies relegate the responsibility to non-core teams whose strengths lie more in execution that in strategy. Don’t fall into this trap!
The best way forward is to combine strategic thinking across both human behavior and leverage key brand visual and verbal elements to communicate your message. This all but mandates that gifting product design should be in the hands of capable marketers or anyone with the right training to be the brand steward.
Originally printed in Beauty Packaging.