- A new report from Packaged Facts found about 54% of consumers who bought food as gifts in the past year did so during the winter holidays — Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Additionally, 29% of shoppers who bought food gifts for themselves made the purchase during this time of year.
- The report noted that online shopping continues to be important when it comes to buying food as gifts, but consumers are still making in-person purchases. Packaged Facts said 36% bought food gifts at Walmart, 27% purchased them at Target, Kmart or similar retailers, while 30% went to a conventional supermarket and 26% visited a warehouse club. Amazon was the website of choice for 24% of food gift shoppers.
- "The winter holidays have become a food gifting mainstay," David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said in a release. "Even food gifting sales for other popular occasions including birthdays, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day can't match the flurry of activity during the winter holidays."
CPG companies and retailers pull out all the stops to promote food gifting during the holiday season. There are gift baskets filled with regional and local goodies, corporate food swag with logos attached and special displays in supermarkets designed to halt shoppers in their tracks and forget the well-intentioned grocery list.
Across retailers, more shoppers have been heading to physical stores to do their shopping earlier this year. But this report found that online food gift shopping is becoming more popular.
Retailers can often take advantage of social media and online advertising as well as video and photo sharing sites like Instagram to post delicious-looking food gifts either still packaged or being enjoyed by the receiver. The holidays are also a time when food companies launch new limited edition products and campaigns, such as the new Oreo playable turntable and Coke's scented Tube station. It's tough to resist Christmas cookies, candy and sugary drinks, or special meat and cheese snacks, when they're being shown up close in all their sweet or savory glory.
Food gift items are typically gourmet, unusual, fancy or something most people might not buy any other time of year. Therefore, food gifts promote indulgence and impulse purchases — hallmarks of the holiday season — and give recipients a chance to sample interesting items they might not otherwise. For manufacturers and retailers, this sampling could start an annual trend in families and between friends by engendering new holiday buying habits.
Premium chocolate candy, candy canes, chocolate Santas, peppermint bark and other sweet treats are classic holiday food gifts, along with champagne, wine and spirits. Packaged Facts found that boxed chocolates and candies are the most commonly chosen food gift bought for others — with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, sweet baked foods, nuts, salty snacks and popcorn tins.
The overall U.S. market for food gifts is a big one, according to Packaged Facts. The market research publisher projected that sales of total consumer and corporate food gifting could hit $20 billion this year, which would be a 4% jump from 2017.
Convenience was a big factor in what food gifters decide to buy, the report found. The items need to be easily deliverable either in person or to recipients out of state. Those who bought food gifts viewed them as good choices for friends and family members who probably don't really need anything, but still might appreciate an indulgent, attractive and high-quality edible gift.
Online shopping and convenience often go hand in hand. E-commerce grocery demand this holiday season is already expected to be 20% higher than last year, so if retailers and grocers can market their food gifts successfully — both online and in stores — their sales could soar this holiday season.