Is there such a thing as the 'perfect gift'?

13 Dec 2012 14:04:05.453


With just twelve more Christmas present-buying days until the big day, researchers at The University of Nottingham are asking for help from the public to find out if there is such a thing as the ‘perfect gift’?

The team from Nottingham University Business School is offering a £30 gift incentive for volunteers who take part by keeping a diary of their gift-buying, giving and receiving for four weeks over the Christmas period and by taking part in a short interview  afterwards.

The aim of the study is to understand how people feel and behave when a particular gift is given to, or received from, a variety of people and to identify what makes their experiences so different. 

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A growing market

Business analysts say the UK giftware market is expected to grow by 7.2% between 2011 and 2015 to reach over £5bn. The research will help the retail and marketing industries create new strategies in the gift industry, to give new insights into the role of relationships in gift-giving behaviour and to help gift givers to select the right gifts.

Lead researcher, Ines Branco Illodo said: “One of the main reasons why gifts are an important topic for research is that gift exchange is part of our daily life. We give gifts to symbolise special occasions, to say thank you, to apologise or to cheer up someone.

“At this time of the year, we spend quite a lot of our time trying to find the right Christmas gifts and this can be challenging. Some people love giving gifts and others find it very stressful. Some people prefer not to receive gifts and others feel bad if they do not. Probably for the majority these feelings change depending on the relationship with the other person. We experience gift giving in different ways and so do other people when receiving one of the gifts we give to them.

“In many shops we see the claim the ‘perfect gift’, considering that the same gift can be perfect for everyone. Many websites offer gifts for the same type of relationship (mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters and boyfriends among others). However, it is unlikely that the same gift will fit all mothers, sisters or boyfriends.”

What’s involved

The first step of the research is for volunteers to complete a background questionnaire (10 minutes) to classify and to select 30 people to take part in the next stages. Once this group is identified, its members will select how they would like to receive a £30 gift that can be kept by the participant as an Amazon gift certificate or donated to a charity. Participants must complete all the stages of the research to receive their gift.

The next stage involves writing an online diary online for over a 4-week period from 16th December 2012 to 15th January 2013. Participants will keep records of gifts given, received and missed gift giving or receiving opportunities. There is a different form to complete online for each of these experiences that the researcher would receive directly immediately after completion. Participants will be able to send pictures of their gifts by email and all information will be strictly confidential and anonymous.

Finally, a short interview (around 30 minutes) will identify gaps from diaries that need further clarification and the £30 gift will be released just after completion of this stage. The process will be very simple, interactive and there are no right or wrong answers.  Ines Branco Illodo will be available every day to help the volunteers if needed.

If you would like to take part in the study please follow the link to the initial questionnaire to submit your entry:

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

Story credits

More information is available from Ines Branco Illodo, Nottingham University Business School on +44(0)115 846 6361

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