Penney's, others pitching gift ideas for busy shoppers

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Some of the nation's leading retailers, trying to get away from the holiday discounting wars, are marketing their wares with suggestion lists for customers.

The lists, organized by price and/or age and sex of the intended recipient, are being used by retailers ranging from J.C. Penney Co. to Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Penney's is using sales associates in red aprons labeled "Gift Expert." The associates will offer shoppers advice for gifts based on the recipient's age and sex, and the price range under consideration by the giver.

The program is supported by TV spots from Temerlin McClain, Dallas, which broke Thanksgiving night on ABC and CBS.


Retailers "can't depend on price only," said Gale Duff-Bloom, president of marketing and company communications at Penney's. "Time-starved women need convenience, speed and hassle free" shopping.

Bed, Bath & Beyond stores offer a list of gift suggestions at various price ranges.

Even catalog marketers are pushing gift lists, with Lillian Vernon Corp. telephone sales representatives asking customers for the sex and ages of people they are buying for and then taking them through appropriate unadvertised specials.

"It is a way of helping people at what is often a challenging experience," said Warren Hashagen, senior VP-chief financial officer of The Gap, which plans to hand out weekly cards containing ad copy and gift items listed by price.

The Gap also last week started its first significant holiday TV effort. The campaign includes three spots that extend its "Fall Into the Gap" campaign. In one spot, Lena Horne sings "Winter Wonderland"; two other spots feature updated renditions of holiday classics with such performers as Dave Navarro of Red Hot Chili Peppers, who wears a red negligee robe trimmed in black feathers.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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