Remember how Friendship Day became a fad after "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" released in 1998? The Shah Rukh Khan-starrer not only popularised it but also made colourful friendship bands the rage. But 13 years later, impressive e-gifting options have taken over, say trade experts.
Friendship Day falls on the first Sunday of August every year and this year on Aug 4.
"For the last few years, SMSs, e-gifting options and social networking sites have taken over from friendship bands and greeting cards. We hardly get customers for friendship bands. They rather ask for useful products like pen drives, clothes, books and handbags," Nikhil Tyagi of Gift Gallery, told IANS.
Retailers say that online customers have increased manifold over the years because of the comfort and convenience e-commerce websites offer.
Tarana Ahmed, manager (Corporate Communications) at Ferns N Petals (FNP), said: "The digital world has indeed created a great challenge for the offline stores."
There has been a major change in the gifting habits as people now splurge on sending personalised and unconventional items to their friends or loved ones.
"There are two things that have changed about gifting over the years. Firstly, it has become more personal and special; and secondly it's becoming more fun, offbeat and extremely out-of-the-box," said Mayank Bhangadia, co-founder of www.giveter.com.
Another factor that made e-gifting sought after is that there is no time constraint, Bhangadia's partner Avinash Saxena pointed out.
"We believe that gifts have become a lot more creative, personalised and convenient. What allows us to get into such a personal space and make the experience so much more fulfilling is the fact that we are an e-commerce brand, available throughout the day and night to make gifting as special as you want it to be," Saxena added.
There is another school of thought that believes in celebrating friendship throughout the year.
Now, schoolchildren or college-goers don't wait for Friendship Day to make their best buddies feel special. They prefer sending gifts online whenever they want to express their feelings.
"I and my friends don't buy friendship bands any more. We all have accounts on Facebook and we keep sending customised gifts and animated greeting cards to each other. Online, you have hundred options, it's much more better, cute and free of cost," Nikita Singh, a class 12 student, said.
Nowadays, youngsters also bond over movies and parties.
Raghav Sachdeva, 20, a Delhi University student, said: "I really don't have to wait for friendship day to make my best friend feel special. I can do that whenever I want. My friends and I don't really like gifting to each other. We usually party or go out for movies and share the bills."
Another college-goer, Ishan Saxena, 21, said: "It's not about Friendship Day, it's about spending time with your best friends. It's always good to be with your best friends, no matter what place, date or time. When I was in school, my friends and I used to give friendship bands but not any more. We rather post pictures, a poem or a testimonial for each other on Facebook."
With youngsters spending more time surfing the Internet, online and offline segments work hand-in-hand like a symbiotic relationship at FNP, said Ahmed.
"For example, when we get an order at fnp.com, we transfer it to the FNP store closest to the address of the recipient. Also, to cater to the increasing demands of online customers, especially on occasion like Friendship Day, along with the options of customised bouquet, we have also introduced a varied range of gifts and hampers that suits the trend and taste of the youth," she explained.