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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Where is our Gift-Giving Pandora?

Gift cards have increased popularity as a holiday shopping alternative because they improve satisfaction on both ends of the vast majority of gift-giving experiences.

Immensely portable or even virtual, they reduce a giver’s search costs to almost zero. More importantly, they allow the giver to fulfill their desire (or social requirement) to give a gift while relieving them of the increased anxiety over having potentially given a bad gift, or even a suboptimal gift, as it transfers most of the burden of choice to the receiver.

Gift cards improve the satisfaction on the receiver end as they provide the receiver some personal choice over the gift, while allowing them an additional pleasurable service experience as they engage in shopping with treating themselves as the goal.

Traditionalists see gift cards as impersonal, which, to some extent, they are, but they're used so frequently because in a majority of cases, traditional gift giving is an inefficient activity requiring scads of time and providing suboptimal satisfaction results.

Before I’m chastised for that last sentence let me defend that I know it’s the thought that counts. But why can’t the thought and the result be equally exceptional?

Where is our Pandora for giftgiving? We can’t be far away. Between facebook updates, Foursquare mentions, tweets, LinkedIn networks, contacts and reading lists, Amazon and other sites’ compiled wishlists, we’re aggregating enough data points on ourselves to create a personal preference profile that will spit out timely, relevant gift choices and link people to a retail experience to obtain them. The music genome project attempted to “capture the essence of music at the fundamental level" using about 400 basic attributes to describe songs and an algorithm to organize them. I love Pandora because it takes what I know and suggests similar relevant material – some of which I know and some I don’t.

Surely we’re at the stage where there are enough data points on each of us in the social networking, online and offline retailing spheres to compile our personal preferences and do the same.


Anonymous said...

hello~nice to meet u..............................

Beth Behr said...

Thank you for sharing. I use a gift giving service and it makes things a whole lot easier.