By Brian Jensen, Chief Strategy Officer at OgilvyOne


For those of you lucky enough to have a significant other (or intend to become one), these past few weeks will have been the annual hunt for the Valentine's present that says the right things without saying anything unintended.

It's a stressful time.

That's because EVERY present is an emotional bond made tangible. It's every spoken and unspoken feeling turned gold, chocolate, or, Cupid forbid, plastic giftcard. It's no wonder that the Body Shop reported that 47% of people find buying presents stressful. If you don't, should you be trying harder? Give the wrong gift and you might find yourself single again on the 15th.

And yet, our review of Gifting Platforms (websites whose proposition is finding and sending great gifts) found that very few help people alleviate this anxiety. They cater for people shopping with their heads (price, promotion, occasion) and not their hearts (relationship length, strength or area for improvement!). At worst, they make terrible assumptions about how people shop (usually by gender). Wouldn't it be better if they helped people shop by need:

* I have no idea what the heck I'm doing and need real inspiration.

* I know what I'm looking for and need to see my options.

We believe that many people have lost the art of gifting; it has become impersonal. Filled with automated touches. Several of the presents I gave for the holidays were ones I never saw, touched, wrapped or mailed myself (Thanks Amazon!) Not sure what anyone could say about the emotional bond they represented (except that I hope they know I swiped and browsed thoughtfully.) Both the heart and art of it are absent.

To put the heart and art back into gift giving, we suggest any gifting platform think about three features:

1. How they can help gift givers to personalise their gift. For some purchases, the gift giver might never even touch the product (especially if your idea of romantic is an email notification of a delivery.) Allowing people to add human touches to the gift (like a short video explaining why they chose that gift, or a way to sending a handwritten note with the gift) can make it exponentially more meaningful, no matter how appropriate the gift. And it makes good sense: Euromonitor reported that 35% of jewellery gifters would pay ore for personalisation.

2. How they the gift giver to consult with a gift advisor, generally a person who knows the recipient and can advise on whether or not it's a brilliant gift or a Hindenburg of a choice. From shortlisting options to incentivising them to point the giver to a website can not only save the gift giver from the lonely hearts club but provides retailers with brilliant data about everyone involved. 

3. How they create stories about the products they sell. Every gift has the potential to become a story in the life of a relationship: a memory shared, a hope for the future, a declaration of love. Help your customers tell and share these stories. Or help them create new stories by combining your products with experiences they can have together. Many people are shifting from giving 'things' to giving 'experiences':  time and activities they can share and in which a memento can be part of.

Happy gifting!


Read more Valentine's Day content, this time about the psychology of intentions, from Ogilvy Change's Daniel Bennett here.