Loop Commerce has just released market insights on women’s and men’s apparel culled from its GiftNow gifting platform and service. The results reveal consumer behavior patterns around gifting such as when and how people shop as well as top categories for gifts. The data follows Target Corp.’s recent announcement that it was using Loop Commerce’s GiftNow platform for its web site — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

With the data report, one standout emerged: birthdays and Christmas are top occasions while a larger number of gifts are bought last minute. With women’s wear, 54 percent of gift purchases are for birthdays. For men’s apparel, it’s about 50 percent for birthdays. Christmas garners about 20 percent of all gifting market share. And for both men and women, 80 percent of all apparel gifts are “purchased either one day before or on the day of the gifting occasion,” researchers at Loop Commerce said.

“These insights are not entirely surprising as we’ve seen consistent consumer behavior in gifting for many years,” said Roy Erez, chief executive officer of Loop Commerce. “Gifting is a thoughtful and connective moment, so people want to give products that are personal. Providing the recipient a simple way to modify or exchange their gift before it ships, lifts the anxiety of getting it wrong and opens up categories that otherwise would be incredibly hard to gift — including apparel, footwear and other personal categories.”

Erez said the results “point to actionable insights like last minute is the new normal for most gift buyers. Eighty percent of gifts purchased through GiftNow are purchased on the day of, or day before, the event. Retailers need to shift their marketing approach to adapt to this human behavior.”

Since GiftNow allows the receiver to exchange the item prior to shipment from the retailer, the data also revealed other differences between the genders. With women’s apparel gifts, one half were exchanged before shipping. For men’s wear, two-thirds were exchanged.

“GiftNow is a digital gifting platform that enables the recipient to participate in decisions about the gift before it ships,” the company noted in the report. “The recipient can accept the gift as it was sent — keeping the chosen attributes like color, for example — they can modify an attribute — color, for example — or they opt to receive store credit to buy something else.”

Subsequently, 43 percent of recipients of women’s apparel gifts “accept the product given” while 31 percent “change the color or size attribute.” Twenty-six percent exchanged the item for a different product. For men’s apparel gifts, 32 percent accept the product given while 45 percent change the color or size, and 23 percent exchange the item for something else.

With expenditures, gifts of women’s apparel for anniversaries was tops followed by a “congratulation” gift and then a “love you” purchase. Other top occasions included Valentine’s Day, birthdays and “just because” moments. For men’s apparel, “congratulation” was number one followed by anniversaries, “love you” and “appreciation” occasions.

When the data was examined by distribution of gifts purchased by month, December had 26 percent of the total share for women’s apparel, and was followed by May — which includes Mother’s Day — with 11 percent. September garnered about 7 percent of the total share. With men’s apparel gifts, December had nearly 35 percent of the year’s share and was followed by June — which includes Father’s Day — with 10 percent.

By category in women’s apparel, handbags and purses are number one with 28.3 percent of the share followed by 8.3 percent for dresses and 7.3 percent for tops and blouses. Coats and jackets had 7 percent while wallets came in with 6.4 percent. For men’s, sweats and hoodies were the top gift item with 17.7 percent followed by 13 percent for casual shirts, and 9.4 percent for coats and jackets. Watch and watch accessories came in with 9.1 percent while sweaters had 6.7 percent.

When Loop Commerce looked at who’s sending men’s apparel, 65.8 percent were female, and 34.2 percent were male. “But males spend 8 percent more” on gifts than women, the researchers said. With women’s apparel, 63.7 percent are female purchasers while 36.3 percent are male. With women’s apparel as gifts, females by 75 percent more items than men, but males spend 53 percent more on those gifts.

Regarding the deal, Mike McNamara, executive vice president at the retailer described the GiftNow platform as a “perfect solution for that fussy relative that we all have. It’s also great for last-minute gifting because you don’t have to worry about whether the product is going to get there in time for Christmas. The e-gift is going to get there as fast as e-mail.”

Other companies and brands using GiftNow includes Saks, Michael Kors, Bergdorf Goodman, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, American Giant, Lilly Pulitzer and Vera Bradley, among others.

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