Academic journal article Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior

Use and Disposition of a Gift and the Recipient's Feedback in a Collectivist Environment

Academic journal article Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior

Use and Disposition of a Gift and the Recipient's Feedback in a Collectivist Environment

Article excerpt


The giving and receiving of gifts, due to its economic and social implications, has attracted the attention of different disciplines, Marketing and Consumer Behavior among them. The receiver as an important actor has aroused an increasing interest; however few studies have been oriented to study his/her behavior after the reception of the gift either in culturally individualistic or collectivistic environments.

In order to help fill the knowledge gap, this study was carried out in Ecuador, a country characterized as highly collectivistic. The research conducted was qualitative in nature, and involved in-depth personal interviews with 24 individuals who received a total of 90 gifts for Christmas the year before. Based on the receiver's satisfaction with the gift(s) and the freedom re: use/disposal of the gift(s) perceived to be permitted by the giver, four fundamental themes arose from the data: the gift as a (1) common; (2) special; (3) awkward; or (4) inadequate product. Within each of these themes, gift recipients revealed different attitudes and behavior concerning the use and disposition of their gift(s) and also of feedback to the giver.


Giving and receiving gifts is a phenomenon present in every society and its consequences are important for different reasons: for example, for its impact on a country's economy; for its impact on the socio-cultural value system in a country. Although gifts are given at different times throughout a calendar year, Christmas in the West is by far the greatest season for giving. To illustrate: during the 2011 Christmas season, German families budgeted 286 euros for gifts, and French families budgeted 407 euros (Deloitte SL 2011). On the average, every American adult budgeted $712 U.S. dollars for this purpose (Gallup 201 1).

Research concerning the giving and receiving of gifts began early in Anthropology (e.g. Mauss 1923) and some five decades later, it attracted the attention of scholars looking at the phenomenon from the perspective of consumer behavior (e.g. Belk 1976).

Early research was centered on the study of gift-giving in individualistic cultural environments. Subsequently, research concerning gift-giving was extended to the receiver and more recently to collectivistic environments (e.g. Gehrt and Shim 2002; Jolibert and FernandezMorenol983; Park 1998; Wang, Razzaque and Kau 2007). Nevertheless, research on the receiver's behavior either in individualistic or collectivistic environments has been sparse (Larsen and Watson 2001; Otnes, Lowrey and Kiml993; Pieters and Robben 1998; Shuling and Yu-Huang 2006).

Both in individualistic and collectivistic societies, the receiver can be an especially important actor influencing the whole gift decision process: the purchase; the giving or delivery; the use; and the disposition. For example, in a large study that included various countries, it was found that 74% of the European givers planned to ask the targeted receivers what they wanted for Christmas t (Deloitte SL 2010), in this way empowering the receiver as the principal information source during the decision making process. Studies carried out in collectivistic countries also reveal how important the receiver may be in the gift purchasing process. (Cruz 2010).

In the stages after the purchase and receipt of a gift, the receiver is the great protagonist. He/she is the one who uses and disposes of the products received and who provides feedback about his/her satisfaction to the giver; information that in turn influences subsequent purchasing processes and influences the future interpersonal relationship.

Due to the antecedents stated before and to the potential importance that research concerning the behavior of the gift receiver has for marketing managers, this study was designed to contribute to the knowledge base in collectivistic environments.

Thus, the current study focused on the stage after the reception of a gift. …

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