Love hurts: the agony of gift buying – Helping consumers choose with confidence

It’s the most terrifying date on the calendar. No, not Halloween. Valentine’s Day. Who has not trembled at the thought of having to choose just the right gift for a significant other? No pressure at all. FOGAT (Fear of Gifting a Turkey) is ever present.  

Valentine’s Day epitomises all the challenges of gift buying. Is this a good choice? Will it fit? Is it popular?  Is it on trend?  It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce social proof messaging and help anxious gift buyers choose with confidence. Social proof guides consumers through the online cornucopia and provides reassurance about their choices. 

There’s a long-established shortlist of acceptable, desirable gifts for a traditional Valentine’s Day experience: chocolates, flowers, jewellery, champagne (other sparkling wines are available) – plus (ahem) more personal items. There’s also a trend to giving experiences – something we’ve noted before in the world of gifting. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is no longer only for couples. People increasingly use the occasion to buy gifts for their wider family, co-workers and friends and with COVID and lockdowns, what better time to tell someone you love them?!. And of course, their pets. One in four Brits are more likely to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets than their partner. And as we head on to Mother’s Day in March, Father’s Day in June, plus birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, the gift shopping list gets longer and the recipient profile more varied.   

It looks like we’re faced with the prospects of social distancing and store closures well into 2021. Fortunately, we can browse online and make our choice from the privacy of our own screens. But there is so much choice! Giving shoppers accurate information about products and availably enables them to make better informed buying decisions and choose the most suitable gift first time. Can any embarrassment match being asked to return a Valentine’s gift?

Social media plays a huge role in gift buying. Brits use Google, Facebook and Instagram to look for inspiration and new gift ideas. And increasingly, they’re able to shop directly from social media sites. Social commerce is the latest development in online shopping, where brands and retailers enable customers to buy directly within social media platforms. It shortens the gift buying journey – you no longer need to click away from the social media site to the brand website. 

When consumers can click and buy in one place, it becomes even more important to give them all the useful information they need to make a decision. The beauty of social proof is that retailers seamlessly provide relevant information and connection with customers across all digital touchpoints – websites, apps, emails, messages and social media.

It’s important that social proof is deployed responsibly. We draw directly on the retailer’s own data to deliver factual messages that are accurate to within 5% of that source data. It’s this integrity that builds trust in the online process and transaction. 

Consumers today expect online shopping to be easy and convenient, to be personal and fun. Social proof helps retailers deliver on this expectation and enable everyone to shop for gifts (or anything) with more confidence.

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