COMMENT: Why 2018 was the year of sustainable gift purchases

2018 saw a huge shift in consumer attitudes and behaviours with more people refusing single use plastic, and even more people becoming vegan for environmental reasons. Tree2MyDoor managing director Gareth Mitchell believes this change is reflected in the gifts people are buying for loved ones.

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sustainable gift

Looking back at 2018, one key consumer trend that comes up time and time again is sustainability. As the John Lewis & Partners Retail Report 2018 stated: “This was the year we took it upon ourselves to build a more sustainable future, rather than leaving it to others.”

The popular TV show Blue Planet II showed people the damage plastic is causing our oceans, with a call to action in the final episode urging people to use less plastic. The number of people changing their eating habits and lifestyles, choosing vegan diets and vegan-friendly products is also increasing, with concerns over the environment a contributing factor to this trend.

As an online gift retailer that specialises in long-lasting and environmentally friendly gifts, we’ve noticed the impact too. Tree2MyDoor sells tree, rose and plant gifts and since we launched in 2003, we’ve seen steady growth during most years. 2018 has been our most successful year yet, with sales up 38 per cent compared to last year and 175 per cent over the last five years.

While we have invested more time and resources into refining our product offering and marketing, we have noticed an increase in customers coming to us looking for more meaningful and sustainable gifts. Website traffic has steadily increased over the years, with the number of visitors on our site up 11 per cent compared to last year. Looking at Google Trends for online enquiries across the UK, we can see a steady increase of people looking for “tree gifts” and “rose gifts” since 2004.

From conversations we have with our customers and other businesses, we understand that consumers are moving away from buying loved ones gifts just for the sake of it. People want less clutter, less plastic and less waste. They value experiences and items that they can enjoy for a long period of time, rather than simply using something once before discarding it or putting it away in a cupboard never to be seen again.

Gifts such as trees and rose bushes tick many boxes for people looking for thoughtful gifts. A lot of varieties of plants have different meanings associated with them, so they’re often perfect for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and christenings. A lot of trees, roses and other plants will last for generations; flowering or bearing fruit for years to come. They also help to support local wildlife, absorb carbon dioxide and can even make us feel happier and enhance our wellbeing.

As we look ahead to 2019, we believe the trend for sustainable gifts will continue to grow. Not only will we see more consumers choosing to give ecofriendly gifts to loved ones, but we expect to see more businesses and corporations opt for these types of gifts for their employees and customers. We also predict we’ll see more demand for plant gifts suitable for people with smaller gardens or balconies, products to help consumers create urban gardens and indoor plants to introduce more greenery into people’s homes too.

Gareth Mitchell is the Managing Director of Tree2MyDoor.com

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