Demand for and Value Perceptions of "Gifts"
Communication of gift giving
What we can see from our research on the gift market in Japan is a sign of change from “formal to casual”. While the market for formal gifts such as mid-year gifts and year-end gifts is shrinking, casual gifts for family and friends are increasing in presence every year.
It seems that there are more and more situations in which people communicate through gifts with those whom they cannot easily meet due to the Corona disaster.
The market for online gift cards as affordable gifts is also on the rise, growing from 116.7 billion yen in FY 2006 to 207.5 billion yen in FY 2008, nearly doubling in size. A familiar service is LINE GIFT, which had a cumulative total of more than 25 million users in June 2010. This is an increase of approximately 10 million users over the same period last year.
Nowadays, there are many cases where even close friends do not know the exact address of the recipient, and it may seem over the top to go to the trouble of sending a physical gift.
In the following opinion piece, we will discuss the future of gift-giving, which is developing into a more casual and personal means of communication.
The city is in a Christmas mood.
I have a feeling that Christmas parties will be held offline this year. Many people may have a hard time choosing the right gift to bring as a conversation starter when meeting face-to-face. How has the gift culture of Generation Z been updated after the pandemic?
Symbolically, Generation Z’s gift card spending is on the rise (57% YoY).
Recently, there has also been a marked rise of influencer brands on social networking sites. As interests diversify and narrow individually on the platform, a person’s “suki” is becoming more difficult to capture. In such a situation, the choice of gift cards is useful in that it is “easy” for the giver.
Furthermore, “judgmental” gift selection is not legal. Gifts that can be microaggressions against identity and beliefs are not pleasant experiences for both parties.
The use of experiences as gifts will increase in the future. Experiences such as tickets to classical concerts/art galleries, and digital subscriptions such as workout webzines can be seen as an alternative to consumables. This could also alleviate the Christmas trash problem, an area of interest and concern for Generation Z.
Preserving the “feeling” of gift-giving while taking care that the content of the gift does not harm the recipient or the global environment around us will create value as a “tasteful” gift.
Who do you send gifts to?
A few days after attending a friend’s wedding, a set of Koshihikari rice for comparison arrived at my home. Rice is a very welcome gift. I have the opportunity to send and receive gifts several times a year, for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and so on. Recently, I have been thinking of sending Daruma dolls to a friend who is opening a vintage clothing store in December. (I’m going to check it out just in case she has different tastes.)
The culture of sending and receiving gifts to coincide with events seems to have been a part of our lives for a long time. However, when I take another look at the gift culture before the holiday season, I am struck by how much it has changed without us even realizing it.
Facebook has offered a “Gifts” feature since 2012 that allows users to send gifts without knowing the recipient’s address, and I have used LINE to send stamps and drink tickets to friends on several occasions. I have used this feature a few times myself to send stamps and drink tickets to friends on LINE.
Another service that won a Good Design Award this year, though in a slightly different style, is “Maho no Dagashiya Chiroru-do” (Magical snack store “Chiroru-do”). It is a candy shop where impoverished children can eat meals such as curry and sweets for 100 yen. The system allows adults in the community to subscribe and pay to help pay for the children’s meals.
As the ways of sending gifts become more diverse, not only to family and friends, but also to those close to the recipient, “support” and “cheer” gifts that do not ask for anything in return are spreading.
The Unknown Side of Christmas Gifts
According to a Stanford University study, household waste increases by about 25% between Thanksgiving in the fall and the Christmas and New Year’s seasons. Food, shopping bags, packages, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and bows increase, and one million tons of trash is delivered to landfills each week during that period, according to the study. On the other hand, some observers believe that the pandemic will also shift gift-giving trends as consumers become more sustainability conscious.
Black Friday Changes Consumption
We are using resources 75% faster than the earth can regenerate them on its own, and it is only a matter of time before the earth becomes a dead land. Meanwhile, a movement to encourage consumption comes with each passing season. With a view to rethinking consumer culture from an environmental perspective, an increasing number of companies are boycotting Black Friday or devising new ways to implement it. Patagonia donates 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental organizations. As an antithesis, the idea of “Green Friday,” which promotes responsible shopping, such as buying at small local stores and second-hand goods, is also gaining ground.
Eco-Friendly Gifts This Year
At a time of year when there is a lot of exchanging of things between Christmas and New Year’s, TIME articles offer a slightly different kind of eco-friendly gift suggestions than we have seen in the past. A cookbook with a low environmental impact, a recycled sweater, or a solar-paneled cell phone charger may reveal options that you may not have thought of before.