Understanding Involvement of Luxury Gift Givers: An Abstract
Givers of luxury gifts face recipients with different levels of expertise and have choices of gifts that can range from experiential to enduring in nature. Inspired by a study undertaken by Belk (1982), the current research seeks to develop a framework that allows the classification of different levels of involvement of the gift giver, based on their conjectures about the expertise of the recipients and the lasting or ephemeral nature of the gift.
Following a precedent set by Paschen et al. (2016), we modify Berthon et al.’s (2009) aesthetics and ontology framework. The latter classifies luxury brands based on their aesthetic and ontological modes and is defined by the aesthetic end points of novice and expert and the ontological dichotomy of transience vs. enduring. In our modification, we develop four specific recipient categories based on the perceived expertise of the intended recipient representing the aesthetic mode and the endurance or ephemerality of the gift described in the ontological mode. The resultant typology identifies the “classic collector,” “skillful user,” “neophyte consumer,” and “paying magpie,” assigning different levels of product and task involvement to each category. In doing this, we add detail to the perspective taken in Belk’s original study on the separate aspects of involvement, where product involvement represents an enduring construct, whereas task involvement is situationally oriented and thus temporary rather than ongoing.
We also present numerous implications to practice, providing insights into modifications to the marketing mix that luxury goods marketers may consider, depending on the different consumer group they are targeting. Marketing for expert gift recipients is well aligned with classic traits of luxury—emphasizing the exclusivity permeating through the price, the purchase experience, and the product itself. Gifts intended for novices, on the other hand, have to be universally known and widely available without diluting the exclusive premise of luxury. Enduring gifts generally increase the task involvement of the gift giver and therefore require marketing efforts that reduce the perceived risk. We conclude with several suggestions for further validation of the framework and related research that may arise out of this work.
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