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People’s hardwired instinct to reciprocate when given a gift!

In recent years, social psychologists and marketers have demonstrated that the pull of reciprocity is exceedingly powerful in human beings, often acting on us in ways we may not always consciously notice.

Gift Giving

You might not know that the the role of gifts in commerce dates back at least to ancient Rome. The poet Catullus described the gifts Caesar deployed to cajole and manipulate others as “wicked generosity.”

Some social psychologists have even helped turn consumer-focused gift-giving into a science. A must read is: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. Particularly, the part about reciprocity.

More recent research has shown just how good an investment gifts can be often no matter what you’re offering.

In an experiment, economist Armin Falk had a charity send about 10,000 letters to potential donors. About a third of the potential donors received just a letter. Another third received a letter accompanied by a postcard with a colorful drawing on it (as a gift, the recipients were told). The postcards were from “from the children of Dhaka” that could be “kept or given to others.” The last third received the letter and four postcards.

As you might imagine, the postcards cost pennies apiece. But they led to a much higher response rates. One postcard increased the response rate by 17 percent; four postcards raised the rate by a whopping 75 percent. According to Falk’s back-of-the-envelope calculation, the four-postcard solicitation improved the profitability of the direct-mail campaign by about 55 percent relative to the no-postcard solicitation (after accounting for the cost of the postcards themselves).

A Michael Sanders' study of the Behavioral Insights Team (Britain’s Nudge Unit) Investment bankers were asked for a day’s worth of their salary that they would split between two different charities. Some investment bankers were given a small packet of candy. That gift alone increased the likelihood of a the donation from 4.4 percent to roughly 11 percent (that's more than 1,000 percent return).

As you can well see, a simple promotional gift does not have to be expensive or big to make a large impact. The question we offer hear is "what should I giveaway?".

We would be happy to brainstorm ideas with you!


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