The Science of Gifting

Understanding Gifting Is Important

Retailers make much of their annual sales and most of their annual profit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Therefore, it’s important for them to understand gifting behavior.  Fortunately, there is some science that bears on this, that can help.


The bulk of household holiday shopping is done by women, who, surveys show, want to put meaning into the gifting process.  42% of them classify themselves as “emotional” gifters, who buy gifts to show that they “truly understand the recipient.”  These people are looking for unique gifts.  You can provide that uniqueness through personalization.  Allow the purchaser to put initials somewhere on the product, to choose product features and color, or to put special content on the package.

The simplest–and easiest–type of personalization that you can offer is a simple note to be included with the package.

Social Proof

People who are uncertain what to do tend to ask others for advice.  You can provide this advice on your site:  have tabs for product reviews.  You can ask reviewers to provide some demographic information about themselves, so that you can categorize the reviews to make them even more useful to shoppers.  The affirmation of reviews can be important.  As a side note, soon you’ll be able to offer certified reviews on your own site that have a seal from Dave’s Certified Reviews (TM).


Scarcity influences choice.  You can create scarcity on your Web site through limited-time offers and limited special editions of products.  Be careful, though, about offering discounts through your mailing list–if not handled with great care, you can wind up educating all of your prospects that if they wait a while there’s no need to ever pay full price for anything you sell!  Once your price list has lost credibility with your prospects you are in deep trouble.

Give Recipients Choice

If you include wish lists and registries into your site, you provide the opportunity for recipients to tell gifters what they want–such choice can improve recipient satisfaction.  A newer idea is to tell a recipient that a gift has been selected and to allow the recipient to exchange it for anything else in the store of equivalent value before it is shipped.  This new approach can save on return costs and improve recipient satisfaction at the same time.

The Bottom Line

At the holiday season, Web retailers have more to do than just add lots of holiday merchandise and conduct holiday sales.  Understanding the science of gifting–and using it for your Web retailing strategy–can help boost sales.

It's only fair to share...Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on print