| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 21 A $5,000 Bose home theater
system, a $2,700 Tempur-Cloud mattress, a $450 Dyson pedestal
fan (like the one used at the Kardashian house) a n d an $85 box
of frozen mini hot dog appetizers are just a few of Oprah's
The host's annual TV special on her OWN Network airs this
week, and features 60 of her favorite extravagances. With it,
consumers will be exposed to one of the biggest joys of the
season for shoppers and retailers alike: the aspirational gift
list. (http ://www.oprah.com/gift-list/Oprahs-Favorite-Things-2012)
The holiday shopping season provides a convenient
opportunity for retailers and brands to plant ideas in
consumers' heads through gift lists, advertising and public
More than a little of that translates into sales. Luxury
goods revenues for the last quarter of 2012 are expected to rise
7 percent in 2012, according to Bain & Company, a consultancy
that serves the global luxury market. U.S. sales make up the
bulk of that market, with China and Japan filling out the top
"This is a great time for retailers and brands to make a
connect with their shoppers. It plants the seed in your head. 'I
might not make that purchase now, but I know it's out there,"
says Michael Shmarak, vice president at DKC Public Relations,
Marketing & Government Affairs in Chicago.
Oprah is not alone in creating gift lists that can push
consumers to think big. Indeed, no list appears to be quite as
aspirational as the one produced by Dallas-based luxury retailer
Neiman Marcus. (htt p://www.neimanmarcus.com/christmasbook/category.jsp?itemId=cat44770736)
His and her gold and diamond Van Cleef & Arpels watches that
come with a trip to Paris and Geneva top the retailer's list for
$1.1 million. Too pricey? How about $250,000 for a dinner for 10
at your home prepared by four famous chefs? Or $30,000 to get a
walk-on role in "Annie: The Musical"?
Even if you're not going to go that over-the-top and will
take a pass on the Neiman Marcus special edition McLaren 12C
Spider convertible ($354,000), there are plenty other luxury
items that are being promoted to consumers.
"We have definitely noticed that price creep is happening
with gadgets, toys, and luxury goods," says Dana Holmes, editor
in chief of Gifts.com. "And, it seems like shoppers are up for
the extra spend."
But that might come at the expense of other purchases, she
says. "We believe that shoppers are buying one pricey gift as
opposed to many inexpensive gifts when it comes to close family
and even children. But, we are also seeing a big push by
retailers to have a variety of gifts under $50, and even under
$25, so that shoppers can get a little something extra without
feeling guilty after making those big purchases."
While a $275 bottle of Casa Dragones Sipping Tequila that
Oprah picked might not make the cut on a lot of shopping lists,
perhaps the $52 Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver Tequila she
also chose will.
And Oprah's list does include a scattering of less expensive
items - from bath towels to candles to coconut and peanut
spread. Many consumers might balk at the idea of paying $238 for
a collection of Lafco soaps Oprah selected, but perhaps some
will buy one bar of the soaps for $17, says Shmarak.
Or they'll aim for one of the higher priced items down the
road. Or buy something else from one of the high-end brands, but
at a lower price. "They might not have the top end, but they
might go for that middle or bridge end to get something that has
that name on it," Shmarak says.
Some also see the idea that Oprah's list has some
higher-priced items this year than last year as indicative of a
positive turn in the economy. Last year's highest priced item -
a woven tote bag - cost $595. This year, it's the Bose VideoWave
II home theater system for $4,999.
Oprah's list also has a significant percentage of items
"The country isn't in a growth mode yet, but consumer
confidence has been steadily increasing," says Sheri Bridges
professor of marketing at Wake Forest University Schools of
Business. "People are ready to come out of economic hibernation
and into the light of optimism that characterizes
Americans...Who wants to see socks and drills on a list when
electric bicycles and metallic high-top sneakers are much more
fun and interesting?"
Shmarak agrees, and sees Oprah's list as also giving a
window into things that just make you feel good.
"Looking at all of the foodstuffs and things for the home on
the list, it certainly fits (with) lifting people out of the
doldrums and making people feel good about themselves when they
consume a product," Shmarak says. "Many of these things are