Deck the Aisles: Expert Tips on Selecting the Perfect Gift

Thursday, December 8, 2016

’Tis the season to create wish lists, stock up on stocking stuffers and obsesses over selecting the right presents.

During this time of year, the pressures of gift giving can take a toll on consumers. While some have mastered the art of giving, the average consumer encounters several hurdles to overcome when choosing presents.

Ernest Baskin, Ph.D., assistant professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, who is an expert in consumer behavior and has studied gift giving extensively, notes the importance of focusing on practicality over desirability during the gift selection process, offering key tips for consumers:

  1. Be practical: “Often, receivers just want a gift that they can actually use in their day-to-day lives, one that is practical for them,” says Baskin. “However, it is often considered taboo for them to acknowledge this or to give a lot of direction to the gift giver. Even in situations where directions are given, such as a registry, givers often don’t pay attention to them.”
  2. Think about what you would want: “The consumer often thinks very abstractly about the gift receiver and worries about the signals that they are sending via their gift choice,” he says, adding that his research indicates that givers should instead imagine the type of product they would like to receive when selecting gifts for others.
  3. Ignore old gift-giving etiquette: When it comes to age-old wisdoms perpetuated by society about what makes the “right” gift, Baskin shares a word of caution. “We hear things like: Gifts should be surprising, tangible, generous and unique, among other things,” says Baskin. “But my own research and the research of others has shown that all of these conventional wisdoms are actually false and result in worse gift-buying decisions.”
  4. Let retailers help ease your stress: “Retailers can help consumers by making them think about the selection process in a different way,” says Baskin. “In particular, while the holidays are often focused on the recipient, encouraging gift givers to think about which items they would like to receive themselves might actually lead them to make better gift choices. Retailers can also encourage recipients to pick out suggested gifts and put them on a registry so that gift givers could actually pick from that registry.”

Ernest Baskin, Ph.D can be reached at or by contacting University Communications at 610-660-3256.

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