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This Year, Big Box Stores are Out – Thoughtful, Personalized Gifts are In

Nov 16, 2017

by Dayna Isom Johnson

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

With the holiday gifting season quickly approaching, finding the perfect gift is likely top-of-mind for many people. Today, Etsy released a new study revealing that personalization is a hot trend this holiday season, driven by the emotional connection people feel when gifting and receiving customized items. In an evolving retail landscape, customized gifts are gaining traction as sentiment is top of mind for many consumers. Below, findings from the survey show that nearly half (40%) of survey respondents said they are likely to give or receive a personalized or handmade gift during the holidays.

Additionally, with over 1.9 million active sellers and 31.7 million active buyers, Etsy continues to be the go-to platform for millennials and other age groups alike. In fact, over half (58%) of millennials and almost half (49%) of all survey respondents cite Etsy as the retailer where they would most likely find customized or unique items. With more than 45 million unique items to browse, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking to Etsy to provide that one-of-a-kind gift that not only makes them feel happy and thoughtful when they gift it, but also shows the recipient that they took the extra time to find something special.

Read on to learn about some interesting results from our recent survey that underscore why people love buying personalized gifts.

Gifting Personalized Items Creates an Emotional Connection for Buyers

In today’s world of constant social exchange (but often less meaningful emotional connection), Americans are looking to personalized and custom gifts to help lift their spirits, and give them the warm, joyful feeling that results from being thoughtful.

  • A common misconception is that luxury or expensive gifts are what show someone you care.  A recent Etsy survey of U.S. shoppers, shows that more than one third (36%) of surveyed shoppers who purchase customized or personalized gifts online reportedly feel happy when giving these gifts to others, and more than half (51%) feel thoughtful, compared to only 18% of people who feel happy, and 19% of people who feel thoughtful when buying expensive brand name items.
  • Consumers may think that an expensive gift will bring joy to the giver, but our data shows, it’s a personalized gift that is truly special (for both the giver and the receiver). Other feelings associated with purchasing a personalized item are “creative” (21%)  and “special” (23%).

Sharing is Caring

Handmade and customized gifts are an especially hot trend this year, but they’re particularly special for around the holiday season. Driving this trend is the emotional payoff that comes along with finding a truly personalized gift for a loved one.

  • Nearly half (40%) of survey respondents said they are likely to give or receive a personalized or handmade gift during holidays such as Christmas or Chanukah.
  • Handmade or personalized gifts show that you truly care about the person you’re shopping for. Over one third (39%) of survey respondents think giving a gift that is personalized specifically for the recipient shows that the gift giver is thoughtful.
  • Similarly, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents think giving a personalized gift shows that they care deeply about the recipient.
  • Consumers give personalized and handmade gifts to people they know well during personal gifting occasions. We enjoy buying personalized items for those closest to us, but often forget that these gifts are a great option for extended family, work colleagues or even friends we’re not as close to.
    • Birthdays (54%), holidays (40%), Mother’s Day (35%), Weddings (34%), and anniversaries (28%) top the list of occasions surveyed shoppers are most likely to gift personalized items for.
    • Close family (59%), close friends (40%), significant others (46%), and children (36%) top the list to receive these special, personalized gifts.

“Adulting” Means More $$ For Thoughtful Gifting

Millennials are keen to show friends, family and loved ones that they are more than just another Facebook friend or Instagram follower.  These consumers — more impacted by the lack of meaningful connection can sometimes go along with the social media use prevalent in their generation — value their relationships and want to demonstrate the thought that goes into their gift choices.  

  • Millennials are growing up, and they’re doing the gift buying these days. Fifty-two percent of millennials say they are buying more gifts than they were two years ago, compared to 36% of general consumers who say the same.  
  • Seventy percent (70%) of millennials are willing to spend more on gifts that are personalized or bespoke – particularly home décor, clothing and jewelry items — this is more than the 64% of the general population who are willing to do the same.
  • Etsy is the go-to destination that makes purchasing customized, personalized, handmade and bespoke items easy and convenient. A whopping 58% of millennials, and 49% of survey respondents cite Etsy as the retailer where they would most likely find customized or unique items.

Survey Methodology

Research findings are based on a nationally representative study conducted by Lightspeed Research fielded across the U.S. during October 2017. For this survey 1003 U.S. adults were asked various questions about their attitudes and feelings towards personalized gifting.