Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

Determinants of In-Store Information Search Strategies Pertaining to a Christmas Gift Purchase

Academic journal article Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration

Determinants of In-Store Information Search Strategies Pertaining to a Christmas Gift Purchase

Article excerpt


This study examines consumers' use of in-store information sources while Christmas shopping. A literature review identifies a number of situational, personal, and demographic variables that may influence search behaviour for a Christmas gift. A survey was conducted soon after the Christmas season to investigate the effects of the identified variables on search behaviour pertaining to a clothing gift. Findings indicate that in-store search behaviour consists of three dimensions: general information search (e.g., dispays, comparing prices/brands), specific information search (e.g., labels, packaging), and assistance of sales clerks. Each search dimension was regressed on the identified variables, and determinants were obtained. Situational variables consistently outperform all other variables, and personal variables outperform demographics for the two nonpersonal search variables. Implications for further research and for practitioners are provided.


La presente recherche s'interesse a l'utilisation par les consommateurs des sources d'information a l'interieur du magasin lors du choix de cadeaux de Noel. Une revue de la litterature identifle plusieurs variables (personnalite, situation et diniographie) comme pouvant influencer la recherche d'information lors du choix d'un cadeau de Noel. Une enquete a ete menee juste apres les Fetes afin d'identifier les variables qui ont pu influencer le choix d'un vetement conroe cadeau. Les resultats indiquent que la recherche d"information comporte trois dimensions : la recherche generale (ex. : prisentoirs, comparaison des marques et des prix), la recherche specifique (ex. : etiquettes et emballage) et l'aide d'un vendeur Une regression de toutes les variables sur chaque dimension permet d'identifier les determinants de la recherche d'information. Les variables de situation sont les plus importantes sur les trois dimensions, et les variables de personnalite plus intportantes que les variables denrographiques sur les deux premieres dimensions. Enfin, l'article fournit des suggestions pour de futures recherches et indique les retombees pour les gestionnaires.

Manufacturers and retailers in North America understand the economic importance of the Christmas season. Christmas holiday sales can account for 30 - 50% of a retailer's total annual sales and profits (Smith & Beatty, 1985). Pollay (1986) distinguished these sales for the month of December, indicating that they accounted for "40% of annual sales of toys ... 28% of candy ... and 25% or more of ... toiletries, stationery, greeting cards, books and art" (p. 140). It has been estimated that individuals spend approximately $442 per year on Christmas gifts ("Holiday Shopping," 1993). More than $100 billion is spent on gifts in the United States every year (Ruth, Otnes, & Brunel, 1999), and consumers are estimated to spend more than 3% (Garner & Wagner, 1991) of their annual household income on gifts. Gift purchases have been placed at 10% of all retail purchases in North America (Beck, 1979; Sherry, McGrath, & Levy, 1993). Furthermore, Belk ( 1979) reported among his findings that almost 30% of gift-giving reported was for Christmas. Thus, the gift industry and the Christmas holiday season deserve more than a cursory glance. The purpose of this study is to investigate information search strategies for gift purchases.

Over the years, the determinants of consumer information search have been fairly well established (Beatty & Smith, 1987; Moore & Lehmann, 1980; Newman, 1977). Less is known, however, about how these determinants (and others posited to be unique to gift-purchasing situations) interact to influence the depth and extent of information acquisition for a gift purchase. While giftgiving rituals have long been studied by sociologists and anthropologists, only recently have market researchers begun to incorporate this knowledge from a managerial perspective. …

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