When we give gifts, do we really want it to be returned or exchanged ? Do we want to receive gifts which have to be taken back to the store? Returning a gift back to the store is a cumbersome task for all — it doesn’t help the economy, uses up too much of one’s time and above all, the illusion that it helps build relations, is a total myth.
$63 Billion is the number — the gift items which went back to the store shelves from the last holiday season alone. 35% up from last year. All largely due to the rise of internet shopping, which should have made the gifting easy and thoughtful. There’s a clear problem for the retailers and much worst for the manufacturers.
But consider your own gesture as a gifter — what’s the objective for you to give gift to anyone? Don’t you feel that your gift should become memorable and have stayed with them? Decades of anthropology and psychology research points towards the fact that people give gifts to be used and kept by the other party. But in recent times, due to lack of time, proper planning, and out of obligations, people just throw things at each other without much thought.
And then put yourself in the receiver’s shoe — how do you feel when someone gives you a gift you clearly did not want? The hassle of returning, or not been able to really use it, does that help your relations? Most of the research suggests otherwise.
The root of the problem is many folds. But if we just focus on the social issues there are myths associated with gifting. Both the parties don’t clearly know how the psychology of gifting works. Giver believes that they will be considered more thoughtful buy buying something which is taken by surprise by the other party, likewise the receivers have the myth that they would appear to be asking for gifts if they make their wishes explicit. Both are myths and are not true. And results in poor outcome (well, mostly) to all parties — gifter, receiver and the retailers.
Problem is also that most of the retailers (and other big giants such as Facebook) are pushing for last minute gifting. Most of the individuals have not gotten in the habit of taking gifting as an ongoing shopping experience. Well, till now. I won’t give you anymore hints ;-p