Updated 20 May, 2013, 10:05 am IST
Social Gifting: The next hot trend?
| by Naina Khedekar
Social networks have knitted the world too close, and everything one does these days, is announced to the world by way of photos and personal statuses. Our existing lives have been tangled along with the social and virtual worlds for the minutest chores we perform or undertake. Most of us now have a virtual social life, friends, virtual farms, castles, cities and now we can also indulge in the latest served on the platter of social networking - Social Gifting.
What is Social Gifting?
Social gifting is simple, a user or a group of friends can send a gift (paid or free) to another friend via social sites. You can send the gift card even via mobile or an e-mail. However, this time we aren’t talking about some virtual gift, but about spending some real moolah. Yes, there is more to it than just going to shopping sites and paying to purchase, as you will be gifting it with a choice to flaunt it to your virtual social circuit or choose not to add it to your timeline or Facebook status. Sending gifts via social networks isn’t something new. All Farmville or say the latest Gardens of Time fans, will know the importance of passing a gift or getting one from others, be it receiving animals, farm equipments or some extravagant object to enhance your virtual world. However, this is something different. Yes, it sure sounds like a marketing gimmick, and yes it pretty much is. Suppose you have a list of birthdays and anniversaries coming up, the social app will also put forth an array of suitable gifts and brands to choose from, whether it's your parents’ anniversary or a sibling's birthday.
Last year around, Groupon was known for creating a huge wave of online gift cards. However, Groupon offered mobile apps, which was by itself, without any social tie-up. Usually gift cards indicate that a user could redeem it for the same amount or just pay some more and get the best out of a discount. Obviously, in developed countries with plastic money, online payments or even shopping isn’t as novel a concept, as in developing ones. The online shopping market already exists there and has been growing. Moreover, with smartphones being widely accepted by almost all, another feather's added to the cap.
The fresh wave of merging gift cards with social sites comes after the latest announcement by Wrapp. A digital card gifting service, Wrapp allows users to redeem them through the retailers mentioned on the card. It works more or less the same like others, but is available only in select countries, so far and no, it’s not yet launched for the Indian masses. Facebook has seen some target advertising, but retailers now understand that people spending hours on a social site might as well use it to manage their daily errands. Thus, with millions of people connected, and a herd like following, called trends, social sites can be used to squeeze out some moolah.
Is it all about brands?
Well, the deal with such coupons is that retailers believe that people will end up paying more once they reach the shop, for instance - if someone gets a discount coupon for a tattoo, retailers expect people to spend some additional to get the best out of the discount coupon. This way the customers are happy and even the retailers make some crisp greenies. Wrapp puts across gift coupons of certain amounts, so you can gift it for free or add some value to it before gifting it. Either ways, the retailer gains some moolah, but turning it to a profit making model should take some time. However, the app needs many popular known retailer tie-ups.
Social Gifting in India
Yes, we do indulge in some virtual gifts via social site Facebook, but that’s about it so far. The social aspect merging with e-commerce or mobile payments for sending gifts hasn't touched upon us, yet. Talking about online gift coupons, there has been Snapdeal and a handful of other sites that dish out discount coupons. Though Social gifting hasn’t set foot here, with the wake of e-commerce and increasing inclination towards Internet and smartphones, this shouldn’t be a thing of the distant future.
However, social gifting would depend on various factors, like how people access digital data, trusted brands, gifts at reasonable price, wider acceptance of smartphone and its smart features and much more. Seeing the Avendus report, which states how India has gone digital, one would know that there has been a tremendous progress around last year. We saw a sudden rise in the digital data consumption in India. More people approached Internet-connected PCs, online payments, mobile sites and so on. Sites like, Flipkart and MakeMyTrip became better known, while the craze surrounding online booking and social networking grew rapidly. The most recent Google report also declared Indians are more active on smartphones, despite the fact that Indians owning smartphones are less than even 50 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. Moreover, 76 percent Indians access social networks via smartphones compared to 54 percent of U.S. smartphone users.
Social Gifting on Mobile
With apps doing every job from the most refined ones to awkwardly useless and silly, one will find some gifting apps on mobile, too. We wouldn’t be surprised to see mobile gifting apps with social integration. One such mobile app that we heard of sometime back was Karma, a mobile app available for both Android and iOS. This is an instant gifting app that allows users to send a gift to others, once the person accepts the gifts the sender has to make the payment. The recipient can choose the size, color of the gift and also change the gift for something else. Yes, just another form of retailing, coated with aesthetic values of living and sharing. Giftly is yet another social gifting app.
Another marketing gimmick...
Will it be the next hot trend?
Finally, the question arises. Would social gifting make for the next hot trend. We’d say, why not? But it would take some time and need some aggressive initiatives to trigger such a move in India. A social app that serves gift coupons has to be backed by various retailers and known brands that people would love to indulge in. Another aspect is, smartphone and desktop users in metros and mini-metros have a greater exposure to online and social networking activities, so we would have a decent number of people indulging in such apps, be it redeeming the coupon physically or through an online store.
Image Source: Getty Images
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