The act of giving and receiving gifts is an age-old tradition, one that can trace its origins back to our evolution as a social species. We give to receive – reciprocal altruism – so together we can survive by helping each other.

Jump forward to today, and we tend to focus on two primary areas when gift giving:

  1. Making the recipient happy
  2. Strengthening the relationship between giver and receiver

It’s easy to see how the psychology of gift giving applies to incentive marketing and loyalty programs. Offer a free gift to prospects that makes them happy, and you’re far more likely to acquire them as a customer.

Reward your regular customers, and you’ll strengthen their relationship with your brand. They’ll remain loyal and you’ll retain them as customers.

Does the gift you give matter?

The gift you give ALWAYS matters.

It’s one of the major factors at play in the psychology of gift giving.

While the right gift can make the recipient happier and strengthen your relationship, the wrong gift can actually negatively impact the recipient’s perception of your brand.

So how do you choose what to give as part of your incentive marketing?

The secret to the right gift may lie in its physicality.

A physical gift feels more tangible

A gift that gets delivered to your door – one that you can unbox and unwrap – is undeniably real.

You can hold it in your hands, turn it over, put it together, set it up, use it, play with it. You can’t just see its value, you can feel it.

Percentage discounts, cashback offers and digital gift cards are good incentives, but they don’t trigger the same psychological response as a physical gift.

A physical gift adds long term value

Another benefit of receiving a physical gift is that it’s long-lasting.

Cashback or discounts are never seen, and a gift card is quickly spent. But a physical gift has an immediate place in your home. It’s used again and again and is seen as a constant reminder of the experience of receiving that gift.

It will always remind the recipient of your brand.

Any gift that adds value over a long period of time will always be valued higher than those fleeting, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ gifts that just put a momentary smile on the recipient’s face.

A physical gift builds a stronger connection  

Because a physical gift is experiential – whether that’s using a new piece of technology, wearing new clothes for a special occasion or transforming a room with some home improvements – it’s more likely to build a strong connection with your brand.

Research consistently shows that the experience is essential when receiving gifts. Digital gifts don’t generate the same experience as a physical product that will create instant memories.

A physical gift is thoughtful

Various studies into the psychology of gift giving have found that the cliche is true:

“It’s the thought that counts”

More often than not, thoughtful gifts trump price or desirability. Recipients appreciate if effort has been put in and feel closer to the giver.

For example, percentage discounts might make a recipient think “Great, I’ll save money” but they’re a very generic offer. They don’t feel thoughtful and the recipient never feels like they actually received anything.

Cash too is seen as rather unthoughtful.

But a physical gift shows consideration. It takes time and effort to get a physical gift delivered to a recipient (unless you use Gift&Go!), and that is appreciated. 

A physical gift is relevant and useful

Perhaps most importantly, physical gifts are more highly valued by recipients because they’re seen as being relevant and useful.

Cash is useful and gift cards can be a great ‘middle-ground’ option for recipients to buy what they want, but there’s no instant gratification. There’s a disconnect between the giving of the gift and the redeeming of it for something the recipient wants.

A physical gift bridges the gap – something real, tangible, thoughtful and that’s actually useful…

…but only if you give recipients the choice.

Because if you’re not careful, it’s easy to give a physical gift that the recipient doesn’t want or need.

Yes, you’ll still build a strong connection, creating a positive, thoughtful experience with your recipient, but you won’t be tapping into the full psychological potential of sending a useful, wanted, physical gift.

Several studies into gift giving found that people are more appreciative of the gifts they ask for and want, compared with those that are unsolicited or a complete surprise. 

So how do you let your customers choose their own physical gift as part of your incentive marketing strategy? 

Easy. You Gift & Go.

By tapping into the power of Amazon Business – with Prime Delivery –  along with other leading suppliers – you can create your own gift options from millions of products, giving your customers a real choice in the gift they want.

A real, relevant, useful physical gift, delivered directly to their door.

They’ll think you’ve been thoughtful, putting in the effort and giving them something they actually want – and you’ll benefit from a stronger relationship with your customers.

Best of all with Gift & Go, you won’t even have to put in any effort to the physical gift giving – it’s all taken care of for you.

Want to feel the psychological effects of receiving a physical gift yourself?

Book a demo of Gift & Go.

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With Amazon’s preferred gifting, incentives and rewards partner, there’s a better way to say thank you.

Are you ready to Gift & Go?