When I was a kid, my parents would hide something under my pillow for Christmas and the New Year, claiming it was Santa’s gift. But it didn’t take me too long to know it was them, and I actually started making a list of what I wanted! My first most expensive gift I asked for was a desktop computer in 1998, but I had to work really hard to get it. While desktop computers are probably not a gift-able thing in 2019, there is a rise of very tech-savvy gifts that appeal to many people now. With the holiday and New Year season approaching, everyone is probably thinking of “gifts”! So, I thought of writing this post about how the digital world changed the concept of gifts.
While some people still like traditional physical gifts, there are dozens of online websites that give people ideas on “online” gifts. This includes the simple ideas of e-vouchers, e-gift-cards, to other more tech-savvy ideas like a service subscription for websites like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon music, or you can buy digital products like e-books and mobile applications.
Online digital gifts may have apparent advantages over traditional gifts. For example, they are hassle-free to buy, as you don’t need to get into crowds of shoppers and cashier lines during the weekend. This type of gifts also give the receiver flexibility to choose how they want to use it, so for example they may watch whatever movies they prefer on Netflix in comparison to giving them cinema tickets for a specific movie. Also, online gifts can be more environmentally friendly, so an e-book is indeed better than a paperback book.
Nevertheless, the previous options aren’t everyone’s straight forward choice. Many people still prefer to hold a physical gift. It probably depends on the person receiving the gift: how old they are and their interests and preferences. It is definitely something worth researching or exploring more! A quick Google Scholar research on “online gifts” didn’t really show results that explain consumers’ behaviour towards online versus traditional gifts.
Another important question is: to what extents are gifts considered “online”? For example, if you gift someone a Groupon e-voucher for a fancy meal, it is a gift that is booked and redeemed in the online space but it results in a physical experience of a restaurant. So, while it is still an online-mediated gift, it is not an online product. Also, if you buy an e-voucher through Amazon, the receiver can use this voucher to buy e-books (which are an online product) or clothes!
So, do you actually like to receive a traditional physical gift, or do you prefer any of the above options? And as a buyer, what do you actually prefer? For me, I spend a lot of time choosing gifts for people, because I feel gifts have to match their personalities. So, I like engraved items with people’s names, or I hunt for stuff that they have been trying to buy for some time. However, sometimes I don’t know the person I am buying the gift for well, so I opt-in for easier gifts. In that case gift vouchers are a life saver. But will people appreciate it as much as a big box wrapped in Christmas colours wrap?
In asking the previous questions, I am also asking if the online space has removed some of the excitement from gifting behaviours, especially for those who aren’t really that much into tech-savvy stuff or who maybe prefer to be surprised with a physical product in their hands. So, would I prefer to go hunt for my desktop computer online or in shops or to have it there at home waiting for me?