Gifts Are Sacred Until the Deal Strikes: An Abstract

Bidisha Burman, Pia A. Albinsson, Robert M. Schindler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Gifts are commonly used to represent and reinforce personal relationships that are important and often sacred (Belk et al. 1989). To support the sacredness of a gift, it should represent some considerable monetary sacrifice (Branco-Illodo and Heath 2020), but also should be removed from profane considerations of money by, for example, the removal of price tags (Belk et al. 1989). Given these aspects of a gift, it is interesting that some deal-prone consumers justify their urges to purchase bargain items that they don’t need by noting the usefulness of these items as potential gifts (Thomsen and Zaichkowsky 2015). In this research, we tested how purchasing an item at a discount affects the item’s suitability as a gift. Participants were asked to assume that they were looking for a gift for a friend’s birthday celebration. They were told that they found the perfect gift item online, and the online retailer gave them two alternatives. The first alternative was to buy the item for the regular price of $29.99; the second alternative was to buy the same item in good condition but with a damaged box (i.e., tainted packaging) for a discounted price. The three discount conditions had the sale price set at $21.99 (25% discount), $14.99 (50% discount) and $7.99 (75% discount). We then measured the participants’ willingness to buy the tainted gift item. We collected data from 92 participants in three age groups: younger (ages 24 and below), middle (ages 25–44), and older (ages 45 and above). Consumers in the younger age group were generally favorable toward purchasing the package-damaged and discounted item as a gift and were not affected by the size of the discount. Consumers in the older age group were less favorable toward buying the package-damaged and discounted item (although not significantly so) and were also not affected by the size of the discount. What is noteworthy is that our middle age group, the millennial participants, showed a statistically significant effect of discount size on their likelihood of purchasing the package-damaged discounted item. When the package-damaged item was discounted by only 25% or 50%, these respondents showed a level of interest comparable to that of the other age groups. However, when the item was discounted by 75%, the 25–44 year-old respondents reported being less likely to make the purchase. This result offers some preliminary evidence in support of the possibility that a discount can reduce the attractiveness of an item as an imaginable gift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Marketing Science
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


  • Consumer sacredness
  • Deal proneness
  • Gift-giving
  • Price promotions


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