Black Friday: Consumers Will Buy Less, Give More

Here’s a bit of cheer for 3p readers who duck their heads under their pillows on Black Friday: America’s conscious consumers will be shifting their focus to local, homemade, organic, and donations to good causes as top gift choices over the usual electronic crap this holiday season. The news comes from brand innovation firm BBMG.

“In a recession we expect consumers to get thrifty and creative, but we’re learning that it goes way beyond cost savings for consumers who care about doing good,” said Raphael Bemporad, BBMG’s Chief Strategy Officer. “These consumers are actively choosing to promote causes they believe in—sustainable brands big and small—and are committed to creating lasting memories while reducing waste in their lives.”

BBMG had hundreds of conversations with consumers in its private online community of conscious consumers The Collective to determine people’s plans for holiday spending. Here are the biggest trends they found:

  • Spending less: About half of respondents plan to spend less on holiday shopping than they did last year.
  • Giving more: Regardless of spend, there’s a growing emphasis on do-good giving: about a quarter plan to spend more with companies whose proceeds are donated to a “good cause,” and a similar number plans to increase
    spending on philanthropic donations (in lieu of gifts).
  • The DIY effect: Many respondents will be getting creative and making make gifts such as food or crafts. More than half plan to make gifts, and the those who lack the skills or time to do so will turn to sites like Etsy in search of handmade gifts.
  • Clutter is out; memories are in: A vast majority of respondents will consider giving experiences—such as trips or tickets—instead of actual gifts, which are seen as less unique and less eco-friendly.
  • Local even more important than organic: While 29% said they plan to spend more on organic gifts this year than they did last year, a full 38 percent plan to spend more on locally produced gifts, and 31% will increase their search for fair-trade goods. 42% plan to spend more on environmentally friendly gifts this year.
  • Buying used: The increased awareness of holiday waste will bode well for companies such as eBay—where conscious consumers plan to purchase vintage or used gifts. Similarly, their own wish lists include low-impact, highly
    practical items such as reusable lunch bags, gardening tools, bicycles, and memberships to community-supported agriculture co-ops.

This is all well and good as a plan, but who knows what will happen when conscious consumers get confronted by the shining, blinking Christmas displays.

Want to get in on the action? Support your local community by shopping local on small business Saturday , support artists and crafters by buying unique goods at Etsy, and check out Local Harvest for local food vendors and delicious prepared foods that can be shipped all over the country.

What are your favorite tips for sustainable shopping and gift giving?

[Image Credit: Radical Graphics]

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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