The paradox of surprise: empirical evidence about surprising gifts received and given by close relations

Vanhamme, Joëlle, Lindgreen, Adam and Beverland, Michael (2021) The paradox of surprise: empirical evidence about surprising gifts received and given by close relations. European Journal of Marketing, 55 (2). pp. 618-646. ISSN 0309-0566

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Abstract

Purpose
This study aims to explore surprising gifts received and given by close relations to identify the variables involved in creating surprising gifts. The analysis of the viewpoints of the giver and the recipient, reflecting their profiles, leads to recommendations for retailers.

Design/methodology/approach
An exploratory, small-scale, open-ended questionnaire (48 respondents) produces 43 (38) accounts of surprising gifts given (received), informed further by in-depth interviews (eight informants, both givers and recipients of surprising gifts).

Findings
This study identifies and elaborates on the variables (why, when, what, where, who and how, and their combinations) that define surprising gift giving, from both giver and recipient perspectives. The findings indicate a paradox: even if givers or recipients prefer a surprising gift, they might give or wish for an unsurprising gift to avoid disappointment.

Research limitations/implications
Further research should confirm the findings using representative samples. Moreover, gender differences in surprising gift giving should be investigated further. Finally, the exact characteristics and properties that make common objects potential candidates for successful surprising gifts should be studied further.

Practical implications
The discussion has relevant implications for manufacturers and retailers. For example, if recipients are surprised, happy and satisfied, they likely exhibit higher brand recall. The recipient’s (happy versus not happy) emotions also have spillover effects on the giver’s. Thus, retailers should provide assistance in the store and advertise their salespeople as experts who can offer advice about selecting appropriate gifts. The exact characteristics and properties that make common objects potential candidates for successful surprising gifts should be studied further.

Originality/value
The systematic account of all six variables, not previously analyzed in the literature, provides rich insights into surprising gift giving. The discussion of the study of givers and recipients supplements these insights.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Consumption, Marketing, Gift Giving
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Strategy and Marketing
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2020 07:26
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2022 10:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/94190

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