Merchandising students list top 10 gifts for 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shoppers still deciding what to buy that special someone this holiday season can take a hint from this wish list.

Twenty-five students in a Merchandising Strategies graduate-level course at the University of North Texas compiled a list of the top 10 Christmas gifts for 2007. The selections are based on the students' research of Internet gift lists, media coverage, including gift-buying articles, and anecdotes from the students. The consensus hottest gifts are:

1. Video game consoles and games

2. MP3 players and accessories

3. Global positioning system devices (GPS)

4. Digital photo frames

5. Cell phones

6. Jewelry

7. Toy dolls and action figures

8. High-definition TVs and accessories

9. Beauty items (perfume, makeup, nail polish, etc.)

10. Gift cards/certificates

"They're really good gift ideas," said Kirsten Umberson, merchandising master's student/teaching fellow, who categorized the data and developed the final list. "You can find items in different price ranges and make selections based on quality."

The hottest items are electronics, particularly video game consoles, such as Xbox, Wii and Playstation 3, and interactive games, such as Guitar Hero, Rockband and SingStar.

"Video game consoles aren't just for kids and teens anymore," Umberson said. "They're for everybody."

Also flying off the store shelves this year are portable devices geared toward consumers on the go. In addition to the broad appeal of iPods, iPhones and other cell phones and MP3 players, these items include a subset of specialized offerings – "lifestyle items" – aimed at a niche audience. For example, the new Nike + iPod Sport Kit allows runners to keep track of their miles run and calories burned through their iPod Nanos.

GPS devices (the most popular being TomTom and Garmin), HDTVs and digital photo frames are items that have become considerably cheaper since the 2006 holiday season. GPS devices can be found for less than $150; the smaller-screen HDTV sets start at less than $300; and digital photo frames, depending on the features, range from less than $100 to around $300.

Toys, jewelry and beauty items are among the always-popular items. "They're never going out of style," Umberson said.

The most sought-after toys include Barbie or American Girl dolls, Bratz, Transformers and movie-related action figures, such as Spiderman.

Just watch one commercial break this time of year and an ad for diamonds or other precious gems is likely to appear. Bolstering the sale of pricey stones, many couples choose to get engaged around Christmastime, Umberson said.

"It doesn't matter what age you are. All girls like jewelry. And a lot more men are wearing jewelry now, too," Umberson said.

Gift cards, sold by a variety of major businesses, such as Target, Wal-Mart and Starbucks, are an appropriate gift for college students who would rather have cash than a new pair of argyle socks.

And now that Visa and MasterCard offer gift cards, you can leave it up to the recipient to choose where to spend it. Also in this category are gift certificates for magazine subscriptions, days at the spa and other "lifestyle" offerings.

"Gift cards make for great stocking stuffers," Umberson said.

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