Christmas and the gift of giving

Christmas and the gift of giving
There’s much more than business and marketing behind the gift-giving craze of Christmas. We do it because it’s actually good for us.
Their gifts were simple: frankincense, gold and myrrh. The symbol of those presents, however, carried its weight through the ages. If we exchange gifts for Christmas today, it is because of the solemn gesture of the Wise men. This solemnity and grace is easily forgotten when you are caught up in the Christmas stress. Stuck waiting in line in an overheated department store, frustrated by hours of online browsing when hunting for the perfect gift. Overwhelmed by the mercantile flavor of a holiday that seems to have been stripped of its spiritual and mindful dimensions. Why do we do this to ourselves, we may wonder. Why put so much pressure and effort into finding the perfect gift? Sacrifice a fair deal of calm and mindfulness to please others simply because the calendar requires it? Well, it is incredibly rewarding to give gifts. There’s a gift in giving – and this is not just an empty saying. It isn’t either all about the simple “narcissistic hit” searched by those who are giving while expecting something in return. Sure, we may give something nice because we expect something equally cool in return. But according to science, we are actually “hard wired to give.” Research collected by the University of Notre Dame Science of Generosity Initiative has identified a “warm glow” and a so-called “helper’s high,” generated by the act of giving. It feels good to give, and it shows. Generous people are happier and healthier. Senior citizens who volunteer live longer. Generosity is just what the doctor ordered. How is that possible? Neuroscientist Jorge Moll has discovered that when people decide to make a donation, parts of their midbrain – the same region that controls cravings for food and sex – light up. The same region also becomes active when you add money to your personal reward accounts.  Yes, “giving is inherently rewarding”. What does it mean for business? It means that there is an inherent ROI in rewarding your customer. Therefore you should not shy away from giving back to your customer. Constantly planning for his or her satisfaction but also throwing in a little extra, that shows gratitude while creating a tiny sense of delight on the receiver’s end. If there’s a gift in giving, how does a business become successful at giving? Look at what’s in a gift: a gift is a way of confirming a bond with someone you care about. In the business world, it would be your customer, focusing on converting the him to be a loyal customer.  The relationship a business has with a customer goes beyond the transaction.  It is based on what the transaction or sale says about the customer: what did the person buy, in what context and when? All of these little hints allow you to imagine a small but deeply appreciated digital reward. Imagine what a consumer might think of a brand that gives out iTunes Codes after they bought something from an iPhone. Imagine how the perception of a Kindle user might change if a subscription to a newsletter is augmented with a chapter of his favorite e-book. Won’t the feeling of intrusion give way to an expression of gratitude when a gamer is rewarded with a 1-month subscription to Xbox Live? The gifts we pick say something about our understanding of what the other person appreciates or needs. The time and effort put into finding the right gift is just as telling as the outcome of it – we show off our skills. On the other end of the table, the receiver feels a sense of value and satisfaction. The true value of the gift relies more in the gesture than in the actual gift. Keep in mind the Wise men, whose presents we might mix up but whose action we never forget. At Ifeelgoods, we believe in a generous marketing. We believe in customized communications designed around the customer’s needs and emotions. We believe that this is what matters when the economy turn to happiness, sharing and meaning. This is how we make advertising rewarding.