Specialty Toy Industry Trends
Besides Gifts, What Do People Buy During the Holidays?September/October 2005
by Tina Manzer
Cocooning is out, connecting is in says marketing guru Pam Danziger, author of Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need. That means that folks aren’t buying purely decorative items for their homes anymore; they’re seriously trying to cut down on clutter. The one exception is holiday decorations. “It’s happening not just for Christmas but for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter,” said Danziger.
“But Christmas is the pinnacle of the annual decorating season,” she added. “New holiday decorating concepts give people a reason to buy each season.”
Last year in December when her company, Unity Marketing, prepared its “Seasonal Decorating Report” it predicted that Americans would spend $8 billion on Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, up 5 percent from 2003. Over two-thirds of the decorating households were expected to spend $115 on their decoration purchases. What did they buy? For the outside of the house, lighted inflatables were hot in 2004. For the inside, they purchased ornaments for multiple Christmas trees, plus candles and accessories; paper and party decorations; garlands, roping, swags and ribbons; and live poinsettia plants.
Most people decorate for the holidays to get themselves in the mood for a happy, memorable celebration. Decorating also brings back fond memories of past holidays. Nearly 70 percent of the decorators Unity Marketing surveyed said things like, “I love to bring out my favorite decorations from years gone by. They are like old friends and bring back wonderful memories.”
While the traditional red and green is still the favorite, today’s decorators are experimenting with different colors including burgundy, blue, sage green, purple, pastels and pink.
Danziger’s report also noted that many households decorate multiple trees. “There may be a traditional tree in the den, but more fashion-forward trees in the living room, dining room, foyer and other public spaces. More and more families are adding personal trees in each bedroom.”
The more-than-one-tree trend is driving sales of artificial trees; more faux ones are sold today than real ones. Sales of “fake” wreaths are also rising, said a recent article in the directory of the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market. “Americans have less time, so they desire convenience. That’s why they prefer not only artificial trees, but pre-lit artificial trees,” said Chuck and Sarah Johnson, owners of Johnson Nursery and Garden Center in Cookeville, Tennessee, who wrote the article. “Reproductions actually offer a couple of advantages. First, people can put them up much earlier and they retain their look – and needles – throughout the season. One additional factor: many people have discovered they are allergic to the live species, but still want holiday magic in their home.”
Chrismukkah cards, validated by an episode of the television show “The O.C.,” in which a mixed-faith Jewish-Protestant family celebrates the fictional hybrid holiday, may prove to be a hot trend. Created by entrepreneur Ron Gompertz and his wife, Michelle, an art director, Chrismukkah cards offer a solution to the age-old dilemma of what card to send to mixed-faith friends and family members.
“Chrismukkah is a blend of favorite traditions from both Hanukkah and Christmas,” said Gompertz, who is Jewish. He began observing Chrismukkah with his Protestant wife in 2003, before they formed www.Chrismukkah.com the next year. The company offers an original collection of interfaith holiday cards that mix icons from both Hanukkah and Christmas. One features Rudolph wearing a menorah; another says “Merry Mazeltov.”
Gompertz celebrates the holiday starting on the first night of Hanukkah and continues though Christmas Day. He considers it a festive mix of favorite nonreligious traditions from both holidays. “Chrismukkah is celebrated by mixed-faith couples, interfaith families, half-Jews and others. Chrismukkah is a new name for the way millions of people experience the holidays together each year.”