Mar 29, 2011
Think Outside the Box
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Innovative gift bags and wrap can help seal sales

When it comes to wrapping up gifts, a simple roll of paper doesn’t always cut it anymore. Consumers are on the lookout for decorative and interesting specialty gift wrapping solutions that save space, save time, save the planet and save hassle – all while looking great, of course.

While most party store retailers carry a basic selection of paper and bows, some are missing the boat on additional sales. Why? The answer might just be in the bag – the gift bag, that is.

As Nancy Dickson of The Gift Wrap Co. points out, party store retailers already have a captive audience when it comes to wrapping sales. The consumer is there for the purpose of a special celebration and will most likely be gifting something that requires wrapping.

“A gift is an extension of yourself and your feelings towards another, and consumers want to ‘represent’ well,” Dickson said. “Consumers are also looking for a good value, not meaning just low cost value, but also perceived value. In other words, they want good quality, well crafted items at a fair price point for what is being delivered.”

She added that in addition, many gift wrap items can be used as decorations, centerpieces or favor containers. With a little helpful education, retailers can inspire the consumer to get creative and inventive. The Gift Wrap Co.’s 2011 product line contains traditional core products such as gift wrap, bags and finishers, but also branches into more food and party related containers suitable as favor containers or decorations themselves.

“We are expanding our cupcake box offering that we started last year to include a single cupcake box, and have widened our Christmas range to include a food-safe box sized to fit all those baked bread loaves popularly given as holiday gifts,” Dickson said. “We’re also excited about our new sweet sacks, a set of goodie bags modeled after the ever-perfect brown lunch bag. But ours are decorated with patterns such as plaids, flowers and fun stripes – perfect for party favors or a way to make lunch more interesting.”

Simple, Sparkly Solutions
An easy way to make the options more interesting is to offer something a bit out of the ordinary, something simple and stylish. As Jon Sharver of Misumaru USA Corp. explained, customers want the least amount of hassle but the greatest amount of style. Each Misumaru gift bag features a built-in drawstring ribbon that can be easily pulled to close the bags and can be tied to create an attractive bow. With no tissue or tape required, customers have a simple and stylish solution.

“Our gift bags are made from high-quality printed film laminate in a range of sizes, designs and finishes including non-woven, metallic and holographic film,” Sharver said. “The two layer film construction makes the bags strong and durable, so they won’t tear like conventional wrapping paper and can be used again and again.”

Bold, bright fun designs have been found to work best on all wrapping products.

“People want to smile and spread it around,” Dickson said, “so a fun floral or a cheeky character goes a long way both in gift wrap and stationery.”

She added that most people don’t outgrow a draw to shiny things – foils, iridescence, glitter – and that people of all ages are attracted to “bling.” In an over-stimulated world in which it takes a lot of screaming to be heard, bright shiny objects like papers and bags will be seen first and purchased by the impulse shopper.

“As for materials, there is a great interest in recycled products that speak to the earth-friendly trend,” Dickson said. “However, I still believe design wins, so the key is to make it cute and eco-good all in one. The consumer feels good about their purchase and so do you.”

Gift it Green
A company that is speaking to that earth-friend trend in an innovative way is the Earth Balance Bag Co. They offer retailers and their customers a tree-free, eco-friendly alternative to traditional pulp paper products. The paper they use to make the bags and wrap is made primarily from stone – 80 percent calcium carbonate (limestone) and 20 percent non-toxic binder.

The process in which the paper is made is extremely eco-friendly in that there is no water used; therefore, there is no hazardous waste or toxic air emitted. There is also no chlorine or chemical bleaching and the process requires much less energy consumption than traditional pulp paper manufacturing.

“The Earth Balance line offers the ‘green’ alternative that customers are looking for at basically the same retail price point, or less, than traditional paper bags and wrap,” said Joy Harding, founder of Earth Balance Bag Co. “Our entire line of gift bags and gift wrap are produced with our stone paper in a variety of shapes sizes and designs with everything from contemporary and retro to sophisticated and whimsical in vibrant bold colors and jewel tones.”

When it comes to showcasing wrapping options to the customer, anywhere retailers can inspire their customers to think outside the box will go a long way.

“People like to be creative and DIY,” Dickson said. “It makes them feel good to give a present with a personal touch. A little effort on the behalf of the retailer to help customers achieve this will go a long way in building a loyal customer base.”

Showing customers what they can do with various bits and pieces the store already sells will only lead to add-on sales. Display a gift bag/wrapped gift in a particular design to show customers what coordinates for bows, ribbons, tags, charms, etc., as most are in a hurry and might not think of these things themselves.

“Personally, I feel that creative displays show that a retailers cares about what they sell and that they enjoy it,” Dickson said. “It reminds me that this is what retail is supposed to be about, letting the customers share in the independent retailer’s passion for these goods.

“In a world of big-box ‘deals,'” she continued, “it’s refreshing to have a personal customer experience where you walk away with not only an exciting purchase, but also a little creative joy.”

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