Holiday Shopping: A Values-Based Guide

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season, even if at the culmination of a very turbulent 2020, we’re not sure exactly what that means. The presence of Christmas, Hanukkah, and other celebrations at the end of the year take over the social and cultural narrative for what feels like an entire season. They loom large on our plans, ideas, and certainly, on our wallets. While 2020 is apt to leave its signature touch on this season in some way, the overarching characteristics of well-intended consumerism will still ring true. 

But holiday shopping itself is not a footnote, but rather a fascinating manifestation of Zenzi’s system of Values, which breaks down customer’s priorities, personalities, and purchasing habits into 6 distinct types. As the holiday season and its stresses and successes tend to act as an amplifier in general, it offers a very telling look at how people who live by different values approach the same task — gifting. What can we derive from how people shop not for themselves, but for others? 

Let’s unwrap it … 

Gift featured: The Mirror Home Workout System from Mirror


They’ve made a list, and checked it twice. Achievement seekers are those who are apt to view holiday shopping as a competitive sport. They target the best gifts or items on the market, then do whatever is needed to obtain them, whether that means shopping unseasonably early or spending hours on resale sites for an in-demand item that sold out too soon. These people take everything to the max, so they want their gifts to be the absolute favorite of the day. If it doesn’t drop jaws, it’s not worth opening their wallet. To get on their wishlist, a brand or product must come with a superlative reputation … and probably be a special edition. 

Gift featured: Quarantine Gift Box from ShopTilde on Etsy


Whereas Achievement-Seekers thrive off of their target list, Pleasure-Seekers don’t have one … and don’t really care if you do either. These happy-go-lucky consumers are the intuitive type, using their own internal compass to judge how much joy a gift might bring. They believe that they understand how to bring a sense of fun into your life that even you may not recognize, and will demonstrate that with a thoughtful and unexpected choice. However, this does not mean that they are too unpredictable to market to. More so than many other values types, Pleasure-Seekers pay attention to trends, so if an item or brand is the latest and greatest (and especially if they’re Instagram famous), they will be enthusiastic about sharing that with others. 

Gift featured: World Scratch Off Bucket List from KristinDouglasART on Etsy


You never know what you’ll get with Freedom-Seekers, as these individuals tend to defy convention and turn traditions on their heads. When it comes to holiday shopping, they’ll be looking to give the things that don’t necessarily come in a box. Experiences, big gestures, DIY projects, or surprises are more up their alley than a trip to a big box store. If they do opt for a product, it’ll be something that is new and intriguing, offering an original approach to whatever its function may be. Brands or companies that have less-than-traditional holiday offerings don’t need to take the season off, but rather focus their marketing on these creative shoppers who will see the perfect gift in something completely unexpected. 

Gift featured: Symbolic Species Adoption from World Wildlife Foundation


Purpose-Seekers are givers by nature, so you’d think that the holidays would be their epitomic epoch … however, they are guided by a stalwart moral compass that is likely to guide them away from what can seem like the senseless consumption of the season. Look for them volunteering and giving charitable donations in people’s names in lieu of physical gifts, because the best form of giving is of course giving back. When they do shop, they will stick with local and small businesses, preferring to spend their dollars with those who need it and appreciate it more than a major corporation does. Brands looking to entice these individuals during the holiday season should play up any organizations or philanthropic efforts they’ve partnered with, assuring Purpose-Seekers that their purchases will be supporting a good cause. 

Gift featured: Customizable Backyard Bar Beverage Tub from Personal Creations


The holidays are when Security-Seekers thrive, coming alive at the idea of a happy, family-filled holiday spent at home. They are not adventurous shoppers, so they’ll mostly stick with the brands and stores they’ve known … and that they know will hit it out of the park. These people live and gift with sentimentality, and search for items that carry a message of love, or that are customized just right to the person or people that they’re intended for. Brands seeking to secure these shoppers as holiday customers should do their best to show that their products are family-friendly, reliable, and ready to make their recipient cry happy tears. A Security-Seeker wants life to be just like a Hallmark movie, after all! 

Gift featured: Adults’ Irish Lambswool Scarf from L. L. Bean


What are the holidays about if not traditions? This value type is suited for end-of-year season and all of the baking, gathering, and gifting that it brings, because each act is a way to honor the way that they were raised and that their family has celebrated for decades. As such, Tradition-Seekers are the type of gifters to go the classic route — toys for kids, jewelry for Mom, and a baseball cap for Dad. They aren’t looking to innovate or contemplate more contemporary ideas, because they’ve perfected the holiday season, in their eyes. They can be reached by brands with a good, old-fashioned, holiday feeling and playing to the message that while times may change, the spirit of the holiday stays the same. 

If you are looking for a deeper dive on any of the value types, click through their titles!