Psychology of Gift Giving: The Post-Covid Power of Physical Gifts

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Psychology of Gift Giving: The Post-Covid Power of Physical…

(from the CardNow blog)

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we’re returning to in-person work, parties and other events. That’s why it’s time to re-evaluate the Gift card–giving habit that may have developed during months of staying at home. You’ve probably celebrated family, friends, employees or customers with eGifts, and they were a great solution then. But now, the digital gift cards that worked so well from afar can fall flat in person.

If you consider the psychology of gift giving, you’ll understand why physical gifts are more powerful than ever during these “new normal” days.

What Gifts Mean on a Deep Level

As far as we know, giving gifts is one of the oldest human activities. Originally, it was a sign of affection or respect, and still means the same today. In fact, gifting remains so culturally significant that many traditions—and often emotions—surround giving and receiving presents.

At the beginning, all gifts were tangible. There is something deeply satisfying about having something to hold and keep. Fast-forward a few millennia, and here we are in the eCommerce era, where eGift cards can be sent in mere moments. Sure, physical gifts can also be delivered to the recipient’s home. But now that we’re gathering in-person again, it is absolutely essential to have a gift in-hand. It’s socially—and emotionally—powerful.

Gift Tip

Thanks to many months of staying at home, it’s easy to lose track of even close friends’ specific desires. That’s why a gift card can be a great option these days. Shopping for a friend who works out or does yoga? Choose a sports supply store gift card, and bundle it with a quick-dry sports towel for a thoughtful present.

Giver vs. Receiver

It’s not surprising that gift givers and receivers perceive presents differently. “When givers give gifts, they’re trying to optimize on the moment they give the gift and see the smile on the recipient’s face right in that moment,” says Jeff Galak from Carnegie Mellon University. “But what recipients care about is how much value they’re going to derive from that over a longer time period.”

What does that mean to you? Imagine that you give your employees gift cards for an upscale restaurant. Nice, right? For some employees, it is. For others, it’s challenging to find time (and possibly extra funds) for such a big night out. What would everyone enjoy instead? A gift card that offers restaurant choices, such as the Happy Dining Gift Card.

Gift Tip

A dining gift card is the perfect excuse to give an actual dessert. There are plenty of giftable options these days, from gourmet cookies to piñata cakes.

The Fuss Over Wrapping

You may have heard that a recent study analyzed the effect of neat wrapping on attitudes about gifts. As it turns out, when a friend’s gift is sloppily wrapped, the gift is “liked more”—significantly more, in fact—than a neatly wrapped one.

But the opposite is true if the gift-giver is in a business setting or just an acquaintance. In these cases, wrapping neatness “serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself.” More formal wrapping is often used in these situations, and appropriately so.

Gift Tip

Skip the wrapping, and put a gift card inside a greeting card. Your recipient will be surprised and delighted to find a present inside, and you won’t have to wrestle with ribbons and bows.

Don’t Get Caught Empty-Handed

With in-person gifting back on your calendar, make sure you always have gift cards on hand. It’s easy to buy plastic gift cards online, keep them at home or work, and use them as needed. It’s a gift card revolution for today’s physical gift-giving moments, only from CardNow.

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