Women in particular identify with the close friendships portrayed in the programmes and the phrase "it's the thought that counts" has never rung truer as token, but thoughtful, gifting becomes the latest trend.
ACNielsen puts the market for token gifting at £130m in the 12 weeks to Christmas 2001. And Abigail Rogers, category development manager for Kraft Foods, explains that NPD has been geared towards a new breed of consumer who works long hours, has a busy lifestyle, and wants to remind friends and family how much they care.
"This is very much female-to-female token gifting and is about little gestures which say I still care' and I'm thinking about you'," she says.
Rogers also adds that until recently there was little in most suppliers' portfolios to fulfil the need. "In the past, gift confectionery was good at doing humour, but there was nothing which reflected this new Sex and the City and Ally McBeal attitude."
To satisfy the would-be Carries and Allys, Kraft has launched Terry's All Gold Imagine in time for Christmas 2002. True to the spirit that inspired the launch, the 200g pack is bright pink and gold and handbag-shaped. It's aimed at 25 to 40-year-olds with an rsp of £3.49, keeping under the token, or top-up, gift price threshold of £4.
Chris Morgan, customer relations director for Cadbury Trebor Bassett, confirms that research points to gifting being on "a strong growth pattern".
"We're all busy chasing money and are, to some degree, more distant from our friends and family," he says. "So non-expected gifting, which is not traditional, is becoming a way of relationship-building."Morgan adds that while some consumers are turning to "modern gifting" where they buy "funky" presents such as scented candles,most people find chocolates a safe bet.
Like Kraft, Cadbury Trebor Bassett has been swift to capitalise on the trend with the launch of Mye, mousse, truffle and chocolate cones in purple packs. Morgan says: "Mye is totally aimed at women, particularly as a gift, but also as an indulgence." Both dynamics are reflected in the two different pack types - the 89p self-eat box containing three chocolates and the 12-pack with an rsp of £2.79.