How Social Proof Messaging can Beat FOGAT (Fear Of Gifting A Turkey)

Alison Wiltshire

10 Jan 2020

They say it’s better to give than to receive, but sadly, that’s not always how it goes. Who hasn’t felt anxious faced with choosing a special gift? Forget FOMO, how about FOGAT. It’s the Fear Of Gifting A Turkey? The fear of picking a dud, sending the wrong message, letting people down… #FOGAT.

No-one wants to see a gift returned; it’s embarrassing for giver and recipient, a headache for the retailer and bad for the planet as returned goods generate huge waste and CO2 emissions (Americans return about 3.5 billion products every year). Better gift buying can help reduce returns. 

What gift buyers need is low key, no pressure help to steer them through what can seem like overwhelming choice – especially online or if someone is shopping in an area where they have little personal experience – and give them the confidence they are making a really good decision. This is a job for social proof messaging. 

Social proof works on the principle that we are influenced by what other people do. When shopping, we’re reassured to know that others have liked or considered or bought the same item. It gives a thumbs up to our choice. Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays or anniversaries or just to say, ‘I’m sorry’, social proof messaging is a powerful way for retailers to nudge gift buyers down the shopping funnel towards a sale. 

Less is more

Say you’re 25 and your close friends have just had a baby, the first to arrive in your friendship group. You know zilch about babies. Or what it means to be a new parent. What on earth would be the right gift? A search online brings up gazillions of ideas. But where a retailer uses social proof messaging, it acts like a friendly sales associate, pointing out that this item is a best seller, or that product is newly trending. Based on what other people are watching or buying, you begin to get an idea of what would be an appropriate, truly welcome gift for your sleep-deprived friends. You can pull a short list together. 

Decisions, decisions

But now it’s tough to decide between this stroller blanket and that cute play mat. You’ve no personal experience to draw on. What do people who’ve bought these things say? Customer reviews are important, especially when you’re shopping in an unfamiliar department. Social proof messages can show you helpful information and insight, such as product ratings (‘95% of users gave this five stars’) or other customer behavior.

They can also validate your interest, telling you that ‘120 of these have been snapped up this week’, or ’17 people are looking at this right now’. You relax, you feel you’re on the right track, you can make a thoughtful and appropriate choice. Definitely no turkeys. Gift buying like this is a pleasure.

Reassurance and encouragement

Once you’ve added the gift to your shopping basket, social proof messaging can continue to reassure you and encourage you to finalise the purchase. A personalized message might tell you how fast this item is selling (‘since your last visit two days ago, we’ve sold 135 of these toys’) or indicate that stock levels are low and that you should really complete the transaction. 

The engaging experience shoppers want

But it’s not just about putting an end to #FOGAT. Consumers today have high expectations of shopping. It should be easy, convenient, personal and it should be fun. Social proof messaging ticks all these boxes. It enhances the overall experience, online and in real life (more on that in a future blog), something that many retailers are aiming to achieve, engaging the customer from the moment they arrive on the site through to the final closing of the sale.

Retailers who have introduced Taggstar’s social proof messaging report an uplift in online conversion – up to 12 per cent for some – and overall revenue.

Of course, social proof messaging is not just for gift giving. It has the potential to enhance every step of the retail customer’s journey, whatever their destination.

Catch up with me at NRF 2020 in New York, January 12-14, to talk about how social proof can support your gifting sales –

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