Gift giving: An exploratory behavioural study
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The purpose of this research is to contribute to the marketing literature through an exploratory review of gift giving behaviour as it pertains to cultural and other demographical variables. Following Mathur’s (1996, Psychology & Marketing, 13(1), 107– 123) recommendation that future research into gift giving might examine differences among different subgroups in the population, this study closely examined gender differences to identify variables that matter most for female and male gift givers/receivers. Results indicate that 80.7% of respondents had bought a gift within the previous 6 months, mostly for personal reasons (95.4%), which included occasions such as birthdays (64.9%), anniversaries (11.2%), achievement celebrations (10.3%), Father’s/Mother’s Day (5.0%) and Christmas (1.7%). About 50% of respondents spent between A$10 and A$30 per gift purchase. The results are discussed. Following a comprehensive review of the available literature, the authors set out to formulate a research instrument that would explore respondents’ gift giving-related behaviour in terms of the occasion for gift exchange, the relationship between giver and receiver and the range of values that may come into play when engaging in gift giving transactions. Three hundred questionnaires from students at a major Western Australian university were the bases of this report. Of these, 80% reported purchasing a gift in the past 6 months mainly for a family member as a birthday gift, spending A$44 on average. The results revealed that women have a higher perception of gift giving as a valuable opportunity to state relational bonds compared with men.
The results also suggested that individuals find it easier to purchase a gift for someone of their same gender, as opposed to someone of the opposite sex. Overall, students from Asia seemed to have a statistically significant difference from Australians and those born elsewhere with respect to their perception of a gift’s cost value, the reciprocity principle and re-gifting practices. This research focused on individuals who frequented a major Western Australian university, thus influencing the age range of the respondents. Future research is encouraged in order to incorporate a greater number of responses and variability in the sample that could allow for an analysis of individuals’ opinions about gift giving activities as they relate to their generation. The findings suggest the need to give greater attention to cohort analysis of gift giving behaviour. Matters such as the nature of the relationship between the giver and the recipient, the occasion and the recipient’s gender were of primary importance when selecting a gift. This finding may assist marketers’ targeting efforts by clarifying what factors consumers tend to consider when purchasing a present. Gender implications also revealed the need to assist individuals in identifying what constitutes an “ideal” gift for a woman or a man. Finally, those residing in Australia tended to find it more difficult to purchase gifts for women than those who reside in Asian countries. This suggests the need to explore acculturation and culture shock notions when it comes to gift giving behaviour. This research incorporated in an exploratory nature those aspects that seemed of greater interest for academics and practitioners, such as gift giving occasion, behaviour, values, and demographical variables such as country of birth and country of residence.
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