Gift Cards: People Want the Real Thing

by admin
digitally printed embossed gift cards

Gift-giving has been an essential part of human interaction for centuries. As technology advances, so does the way we give and receive gifts.

Today, digital gift cards are becoming increasingly popular, providing a convenient and practical alternative to traditional physical gift cards. However, a recent study from West Virginia University suggests that people still prefer physical gift cards despite the rise of digital gift cards.

The study conducted five experiments to explore the psychology involved in giving and receiving gift cards. The findings revealed that givers are less likely to choose digital gift cards compared to physical gift cards. The researchers attributed this asymmetry to the givers’ overestimation of the extent to which recipients see digital gift cards as violating social norms of gift-giving.

In one of the experiments, participants were asked whether it’s more socially normative for a giver to give a physical or digital gift card. Nearly all participants (94.8%) selected the physical gift card, indicating that physical gift cards are more socially acceptable.

The researchers also found that people prefer to give physical gift cards to avoid the perception of being impersonal. Givers worry that digital gift cards won’t be seen as thoughtful since they require less effort and time to obtain, as the giver can easily purchase one online. Givers’ preference for physical gift cards is inconsistent with gift-giving norms, which generally suggest that the thought and effort put into a gift are what make it meaningful.

The researchers, from the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, found that people’s impressions of digital and physical gift cards are significantly different, with physical gift cards being more desirable to give, while digital ones are more convenient to receive.  The researchers also discovered that givers’ aversion to digital gift cards attenuates when they are less likely to perceive digital gift cards as violating gift-giving norms.

In conclusion, the study shows that despite the practicality of digital gift cards, physical gift cards are still preferred by most people. Givers’ preference for physical gift cards is attributed to the perception of being more thoughtful and personal, which aligns with traditional gift-giving norms.