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2020 – The Christmas of personalisation

Written by Jon Tolley
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Originally published
September 30 2020,
October 17 2020

With significantly less than 100 days until Christmas, 2019’s festivities seem a lifetime ago. In every way. Remember the chilly December days when we rubbed shoulders in department stores, huddled together at Christmas markets, piled onto public transport laden with bags and packages? The stuff now of nightmares. It makes you shudder to think about it, right? So, what of Yuletide 2020?

Sage advice

Sir Jeremy Farrar, of the government advisory body Sage, was unequivocal when he said, "Things will not be done by Christmas.” That’s likely to mean no work parties, the demise of the office Secret Santa and, far more sadly, the need to maintain a social distance from those we love.


Doing vs having

Consumerism reigned during the 20th Century as people became more affluent and were able to buy more than they really needed. We loved acquiring “stuff” simply because we could, and people craved “things” as an outward show of their wealth and social standing.

But in an article of early 2019, Forbes1 pointed to the move away from ownership, particularly for the millennial generation, citing a figure of 74% prioritising experiences over products. What they termed “skipping the mall for carpe diem” manifested itself in people’s Christmas gift-giving choices later that year.


Forgoing the physical

Black Friday 2019 saw a significant rise in experience packages2 such as weekend breaks, comedy nights and stadium tours. While Debenhams reported sales of these up 13% from the previous year with food and drink experiences even higher at 15%, an experience day company saw a whopping 92% increase in sales compared with 2018. What isn’t known though is how many of these, because of current restrictions, are still waiting to be enjoyed/redeemed!

So, what of 2020 when planning trips and events is a no-no and you can’t get to see those who should be closest to you? How do you give a gift that shows how much you care for and miss them?


The writing is on the wall

A pre-pandemic study3 expected the global personalised gift market to reach USD 31.63 billion by 2021 and, more recently, Forrester4 forecasts that online retail will grow 18.5% this year alone. Popular gifting categories like health and beauty will climb 23%, consumer electronics 20%, fashion 19% and home furnishings 16%. This all points to a season where personalised presents, bought from retail portals, will take centre-stage, particularly as technology and production techniques grow swifter and more sophisticated.


A virtual hug

Now all of the popular and traditional Christmas gifts have personalisation options. Why give an anonymous storybook when your kid’s or pet’s name can form part of the story? A standard selection box when sweet treats can be labelled in a way that’s unique to the recipient? Food, wine or a hamper packaged with the producer’s brand when it could bear the consumer’s name?

Of course, letterbox-friendly and personalised gifts will never replace a Christmas kiss, a hug or time spent with friends and family. But until those become the norm again, nothing says “I love you” better than a unique gift personally branded and given with thought.



1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/01/02/nownership-no-problem-an-updated-look-at-why-millennials-value-experiences-over-owning-things/#7808b656522f

2 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/dec/20/has-christmas-hit-peak-stuff-consumers-shift-to-giving-experiences

3 https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170216005435/en/Global-Personalized-Gifts-Market-Size-Reach-USD

4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamdanziger/2020/09/27/e-commerce-will-explode-this-holiday-and-put-retailers-online-strategies-to-the-test/#620123f962f1

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