Nathan Novemsky, Professor of Marketing in the Yale Schol of Management, says, "People think nice wrapping can never hurt — and they're wrong!"
People think nice wrapping can never hurt — and they're wrong.
"It happens: a frantic last day of work before departing for the holiday. The time for making or purchasing gifts has come and gone. You find yourself, half-defeated, scanning the souvenir wire-racks of an airport or gas station. You hold out hope: somewhere, surely, there must be a meaningful piece of kitsch.
This is the unavoidable trajectory of much gift shopping, and so here's a piece of advice for the last-minute shopper: if the gift you're about to give is less than ideal, then leave it unwrapped. You may just spread more cheer this season.
Intuitively, it may seem that receiving an unwanted gift with attractive wrapping would be preferable to receiving the same gift unwrapped: at least pretty wrapping provides something positive about the exchange of, say, a fruitcake, or a pair of argyle socks; you might call it the asset of aesthetics, a small pleasure before the sight (and sigh) of disappointment. But some of my research at the Yale Center for Customer Insights, conducted with my colleague Ravi Dhar at the Yale School of Management, suggests this belief about the benefits of gift wrapping could be misguided. People think nice wrapping can never hurt -- and they're wrong! When it comes to the exchange of gifts, nice wrapping sets high expectations, amplifying the disappointment of receiving unusual or undesirable gifts, and even dimming the glow of great gifts."