The holiday season is known as a season for giving and spending time with family. As more households open their doors and host gatherings for their immediate and extended family, they are returning to some old spending behaviors. But with new dynamics — such as new digital channels, inevitable delivery delays and the rise of purpose-driven buying — come new opportunities for brands and retailers to reach parents and family members buying for baby. The 2022 Future of Familyreport is broken into two parts: the first stemmed from a survey of 4,300 parents from July to August 2022 and analyzed parents’ support systems and purchase behaviors. The second was a survey of 2,600 parents as well as their extended family and friends. This respondent pool was surveyed from June to July 2022, and focused on holiday gifting plans, including where they were going to shop, who they were going to buy gifts for and how much they were planning to spend.
And the findings reveal that overall, there’s a lot of money involved this holiday season: 90% of the 2,600 respondents to the second survey said they plan to spend up to $3,000 on gifts for friends and family, with 78% planning to buy 10+ gifts — and this doesn’t include for baby. Overall, 85% of respondents plan to spend up to $500 on five or more gifts for babies. Natalie Gordon, Founder and CEO of Babylist, noted that consumers are buying for more people this year, which means they’re eager to be savvier as they browse and buy.
“We’re great at helping people give great gifts when someone is having a baby — we’ve done that for a decade,” Gordon said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “But now we’re trying to be great at supporting families in a very similar way during key events — and that includes the holidays. We sit at the center of this family graph, and we have relationships with all the people who support the baby, so for us, we wanted to learn about how people make product decisions.”
All households are adapting their holiday shopping habits due to the two “grinches” of the season: supply chain constraints and rising inflation rates. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (66%) said the state of the economy is negatively impacting their shopping plans, and most (90%) plan to spend less or the same on gifts as they did last year. “People are going to be more mindful as it’s just a very difficult macroeconomic situation, and people don’t feel secure,” Gordon said. “I think the overall dollar spent will be less or the same but [consumers] will care more about value. That’s why I expect Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be huge this year.” In fact, 65% of people said they are holding out on making holiday purchases to ensure they get the best discounts. They are waiting for discounts, sales, or special offers and plan to shop during special shopping days such as Cyber Monday (76%) or Black Friday (69%). The downside of waiting for the best deals is an element of “distrust” around retailers’ ability to deliver gifts on time. “We learned to distrust ecommerce in the past few years because of how many supply chain issues there were,” Gordon admitted. “Before these challenges, I think we would all say December 15 would be ideal to order these products to get them in time for Christmas. But now we’ve been trained to believe we can save more money and still get the product in time by planning a bit earlier.” Despite these gray clouds over the season, 46% of people said they are more excited about this holiday season than in years past and, in turn, they want to give thoughtful and useful gifts that make recipients feel special.
Although many consumers will be hunting for deals this holiday season, Gordon noted that, particularly when it comes to gifting, people are focusing on finding products and brands that tell a story, have meaning and represent personal values. The data validates this point: a staggering 74% of parents said they would be more likely to purchase a product, or add it to their registry, if the company supported a cause that they also supported. Some of the key social, environmental and economic issues, unsurprisingly, connected to family planning and overall support:
“When I give you a great gift, I want you to know how much I appreciate you and that I put thought into it. I want to share a story about the artisan and the value they create in the world,” Gordon explained. Similarly, parents-to-be are increasingly thinking about values as they shop for their eventual arrival. “When they’re making all these product decisions, they’re thinking about the kind of parent they want to be. You can extend that into essentially every purchase decision.”
Resale platforms and services have gotten a warm reception from consumers, especially in apparel, handbags and jewelry. However, the baby market is an untapped area of growth, according to Gordon. Given the short lifespan of most baby items, parents are more receptive to the idea of resale because it is reminiscent of the reliable hand-me-downs they know and love. Beyond the obvious clothing and accessories items (75%), surveyed parents also said they would be happy to receive used books and toys (69%), swings, bouncers, play yards and activity centers (61%), and even nursery furniture and décor (45%). “With baby products, you may love a product and it’s still in perfect condition and still serves a purpose, but you just don’t need it anymore because the child has grown to the next stage,” Gordon noted. “That’s why I think there’s a really unique opportunity for resale in the baby category.”