Give them something to do this holiday season – The rising popularity of gift experiences

Give them something to do this holiday season – The rising popularity of gift experiences


Alison Wiltshire

17 Dec 2020

If you’re filled with dread about all the gifts you still have to buy, wrap and mail, then maybe it’s time to think differently.  Forbes reports that three quarters of Americans prioritize experiences over products. So why not treat friends and family with a gift experience this year? Choose an electronic voucher, and job done. Perfect for last minute shopping. 

And yet. The choice of gift experiences online is dazzling. How do you choose between a cocktail making session, a NASCAR ride or a hot air balloon trip? FOGAT (Fear of Gifting a Turkey) is ever-present. 

For retailers, the answer is to provide social proof messaging that guides shoppers through their online journey. By providing factual, contextual, real-time information about what’s most popular, what’s highly rated by other consumers, how many are available, retailers can responsibly steer gift buyers through the abundance of experiences on offer and help them make an informed buying decision. 

And there is so much to choose from. Masterclass is where to go for learning something new: James Patterson teaches writing; Annie Leibovitz teaches photography; RuPaul teaches self-expression and authenticity. At Greatamericandays, you can search for experiences by state. Airbnb’s range of experiences includes singing holiday songs with a Broadway star in an online session. A Tinngly gift box allows the recipient to pick their experience from hundreds around the world.

This preference for doing things rather than owning things is an important trend across all age groups. As baby boomers retire, many are going for the ‘less is more’ approach. The millennials prize experiences and relationships over possessions. Even one third of Generation Z say they’d like to receive experiences as gifts. 

The constraints of living with Covid-19 will surely fuel this demand. After a year of living under restrictions, who wouldn’t welcome the invitation to try something different? Experiences really can be the gift that keeps on giving, as people acquire new skills, share authentic activities together and create memories with family and friends. And using social proof messaging is a responsible way for retailers to help shoppers choose an experience that will delight both giver and recipient.

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