I detected a definite shift this year towards homemade gifts, with jam, chutney, Turkish Delight and flavoured vodka all being unwrapped at my house on Christmas Day. Having heard similar stories over the last few days I can only imagine that businesses selling kilner jars and jam pot covers had a bumper December.
From Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas to Lorraine’s Last Minute Christmas, switching on the TV it was easy to get the impression that if you weren’t making your own gifts in 2011, you just weren’t trying.
It’s lovely that people are choosing to go back to basics and put more thought and effort than cash into their gifts, but all this domestic goddessing is slightly tricky to reconcile with my career in an industry whose primary purpose seems to be to get people to buy more Stuff.
I do appreciate that sometimes we create very worthy behaviour change – persuading people to eat more healthily, support charities or drive more sensibly for example. But when it comes down to it, the majority of the British marketing industry’s turnover comes from businesses that sell food, toys, cosmetics, alcohol, furniture and so on. Stuff we might want, but don’t necessarily actually need.
Ok, we do need to eat, but we don’t necessarily need an unlimited supply of Ferrero Rocher, a Heston Christmas Pudding or an Iceland prawn ring in order to celebrate Christmas properly.
Of course you can always reassure yourself that you’re not telling people they need more stuff, you’re just persuading them that should they happen to need item X, your brand is better than the alternatives.
I don’t know yet quite how the two trains of thought fit together. If we’re moving away from consumption as a measure of success and/or affection and towards something more personal and meaningful, what does that mean for the economy? But then there’s the positive impact on the environment to consider too…
My head hurts and I haven’t even tried that flavoured vodka yet.
Update, 02/05/2012 – if this post strikes a chord, you should read this great piece about making people want things vs. making things people want by John Willshire (found via Neil’s April Post of the Month nominations)