Pictured: NYIT students Ashley Russo and Giuseppe Evangelista with Associate Professor Deborah Cohn.
The holiday season is upon us—and with it comes giving and receiving gifts. There’s nothing more disheartening than opening a beautifully wrapped present and discovering you hate what’s inside. After the disappointment, the thought that usually follows is, “Why would they think I would like this?”
To explore this phenomenon, Deborah Cohn, Ph.D., associate professor in NYIT School of Management sat down with students Ashley Russo and Giuseppe Evangelista during a Facebook Live session on November 16 to discuss Cohn’s research study: “Thanks, I Guess: What Consumers Complain About When They Complain About Gifts.”
Watch the highlights and read more below. (To watch the full conversation, visit facebook.com/mynyit/videos.)
“Most people, when they get a gift they don’t like, don’t usually tell the other person that they didn’t like it,” says Cohn. “One, it can hurt their feelings, and two, it can prevent them from getting a gift the next time.”
Gifts are a symbolic message, says Cohn. When someone receives a gift they don’t like, they wonder what the giver is trying to say. “It’s called attribution theory,” explains Cohn. “We say, ‘Why did this person give this to me?’ If you’re trying to say something to somebody, then you want it to be more clear.”
But Cohn also adds that there are things retailers and marketers can do to help consumers avoid these awkward moments. “I think salespeople can be trained to ask the right questions—to say, ‘Who are you buying this for, what’s the nature of the relationship, do you think they’re going to like it, what do you know about them?’ [The salesperson can] direct the [consumer] to answer those questions.”