University of Maryland Extension

Building Your Holiday Gift Selections—Consider Gift Baskets

Author: 
Ginger S. Myers
Gift basket

Mastering Marketing - November 2019

Although they’ve been around for a long time, gift baskets are still a “hot” holiday gift idea. Gift boxes are a near-perfect offering for direct marketers. They can be customized for the receiver, convenient for the giver, can be offered at different pricing options and, can feature your special products. If they include a gift certificate, they may even draw the receiver into your brick-and-mortar or online store.

However, like all marketing efforts, you should first develop your list of target market customers. Not everyone is your customer. You need to research and identify your potential market, choose a niche, and then develop a plan to serve it. We do know that the gift basket market niche is no longer just the single individual looking for a customized gift. The two primary gift markets now are the individual gift giver and the corporate client.

Buyer Profiles

Women are the typical individual gift basket buyer. Men will purchase them too, but only after seeing one. So, always have one on display in your store or have great pictures of your gift basket options posted to your online shopping site. Most individual buyers fall into the moderate to higher income bracket so, determining where and how they shop for gifts is also important. Business customers are looking for unique gifts that can be customized by different levels of size and prices depending on their target recipients. Business customers often need the gift baskets delivered, so determine a delivery or shipping fee in advance and price that service separate from the gift basket itself.

What’s in the basket?

You may want to consider a standard basket first and then offer a custom basket if you have the flexibility.  Your standard gift basket will showcase your own products as much as possible. These could include a gift certificate,

CSA share discount, or perhaps items from other trusted producers.  Customize baskets can be made-from-scratch and might include items you have purchased retail for the basket such as locally handcrafted items or larger dollar value items like a certificate for a beef package bundle or set of herb plants. Because of the size and variety of weights for custom made gift baskets, shipping can be both more complicated and more costly. Be sure to communicate these additional costs to the gift giver before confirming the order.

Pricing

Don’t short-change yourself when pricing your gift basket. Determine how long it takes you to assemble, and package then ship each gift. Then consider how much you want to earn for that time, total the costs of packaging and shipping, your labor and the cost of the gift basket itself to determine your break-even cost.  Traditional gift basket businesses expect to make 15 to 30 percent of their gross revenue. To reach that goal, the markup on the basket items is often 100 percent. Christmas is the most popular time for gift basket sales but, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and birthdays are other special occasions when gift baskets can be great gift ideas. For farms producing plants and vegetables, gift baskets that feature seasonal and harvest items make attractive merchandising opportunities.

Marketing

No matter how attractive or unique your gift baskets are, sales will still depend on your marketing efforts.

  1. Be sure to take some great pictures of the finished product for posting on your website and social media postings. But, also write up a short “talker” that highlights something about each item that makes it special or unique.

  2. Invest in some nice packaging. Whether it’s an attractive basket with shrink wrap or a preformed box, buyers will want new, attractive and secure wrapping presentation.

  3. Promote your basket offering at the farmers market, in your own farm store, and in community product listing and directories.

  4. Community holiday markets such as “Mistletoe Marts” are a good place to display your baskets and take orders.

  5. Be sure to promote your offerings in your newsletters or any way you routinely contact your customer base.

  6. Be sure gift basket recipients know how to reach you when they need to send a gift by including your card and contact information in or on every basket you prepare.

Creating and marketing gift baskets of your products and services can be fun, creative and draw on your entrepreneurial skills. Gift baskets are convenient and provide an attractive presentation for the giver and can be appreciated for its quality and uniqueness by the receiver. Marketed and priced properly, gift baskets also offer respectable profit potential for your business.

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