The custom of gifting is as old as time itself. Giving a gift is the simplest way of expressing friendship and affection, and in some cultures it even takes on a religious context. This makes gifiting a very unique space to be in because whether it is for something as simple as the onset of spring, or something deep rooted like the victory of good over evil, or the celebration of a sister’s love for her brother, India is bathed in festivities all year round and surrounded by gifts & warm wishes.
While traditions have stayed put in India, the means of procuring gifts have evolved, and progressed more towards modern methods, online gifting is one such progress that consumers seems to be moving towards. Browsing through a variety of heart-warming options on one platform, making a quick purchase with the click of a button and getting the gift delivered on the same day are just some of the reasons why online gifting has won so many hearts worldwide, and why its winning marketshare in India too. However, where many have tried and tested with the model of gifting, very few have been able to capture this sizeable market effectively. This despite the fact that the gifting market in India is estimated at $30 billion, of which around $400million is online. And there is a good reason for this.
Discovering India’s gifting potential
The way I see it, gifting in India can be split into 3 broad categories – Festival Gifting ($7.5billion), Personal Gifting ($20billion) and Corporate Gifting ($2.5billion). The evolution of the Indian customer has played a key role in bringing about this change, as this customer has both the willingness and the ability to pay for innovative products. The surge in economic growth, rising disposable incomes and aspirations, increasing exposure to global trends, and long distance gifting are some of the factors that have contributed to bring about this shift towards premium upgrades. However, while gifting players have tried to tap into the potential gold rush that the gifting industry holds, what has prevented most players from dominating this market are a few reasons.
- Poor understanding of the gift discovery process: Gifting unlike any other ecommerce transaction is not a specific process most times. While consumers do have a fixed budget in mind, what they are often lost on is what category they can look for a gift in, or deriving maximum value within a limited budget and yet convey the intended message to their loved ones
- No margin for error: Unlike other ecommerce sectors, where customers are forgiving with a margin of error, which tends to hover around 5-6% for the industry, the gifting space is in comparision an unforgiving one! Here one missed delivery means you have lost a customer forever, and that’s because of the emotional value attached to each transaction. And this is something that many players in India have overlooked so far.
- Innovation & Reach: In the gifting industry, unlike the traditional ecommerce space where suppliers fuel the product supply, the platform needs to start driving the product innovation and assess more deeply what customers look for. Be it in the form of packaging, creating gift hampers or even including personalisation, if you cant understand the psyche of the customer, chances are you have lost one, before the transaction is even complete.
On the flip side, what I do think is likely to create customer stickiness for a gifting portal is necessarily considering these emerging trends that are already being worldwide:
Personalized Gifting: Personalised gifting is on the rise and an ever-higher number of occasions are being added to the tally which includes not only anniversaries and birthdays, but also ones such as Valentine’s day, Father’s day, and Mother’s day, among others. The consumers of today want a touch of style, uniqueness, and personalization in their gift items. This has triggered many online gifting firms to come up with innovative and personalized collections of presents to deliver a satisfactory gift-buying experience to customers.
Gift Cards: With the rise in mCommerce, digital shopping is likely to grow and the gifting industry in India will soon skip plastic to move towards adopting digital gift cards. Gift Cards are different from gift vouchers, which can only be used once, while purchasing products. Unlike gift cards, gift vouchers do not allow any partial redemption, wherein balance funds can be carried over for further purchases. Transactions through gift cards are expected to increase from 50% to 80% during the festive period of October-December.
Social gifting: Considering the digital growth in India, the concept of social gifting will soon be introduced to our consumers as well. Post m-commerce, social commerce is set to speed up as more people will be connected via social media websites. E-retailers will have a major advantage as gifting will give them the chance to engage with its targeted consumers and get timely feedback. They now need to collectively view gifting as an opportunity to reach out to their consumer demographic and promote their brands at almost no extra cost with the help of social media.
The online gifting industry in India has registered a strong growth over the past decade and the market is currently experiencing a revolution, with new product innovations at attractive prices accompanied by an amazing buying experience. The trends highlighted above are expected to become magnified in the years to come, and can result in radical changes in the online gifting space in terms of product offerings, channels, packaging, events and occasions, customer needs, and brand innovations.