In 1992 Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, published a study that sought to determine if gift wrapping positively affects the recipient’s attitude toward possessing a gift. Like many psychological studies, there are often sleights that trick the participants into giving a more accurate response, and this one was no different. One of the experiments asked students to evaluate four different products in exchange for a free gift. Before leaving the room, the students were asked to rate the gift they received, which happened to be what the whole experiment was about. What did they receive? A sheepskin bicycle cover. What is even more interesting is that the students who received the bicycle cover that was wrapped rated the gift significantly higher than those who received the gift in a plastic bag. Another experiment tested the effect of the quality of wrapping paper on how the recipient perceived the gift. This yielded similar results. Even the gifts wrapped in cheap brown paper were rated higher than those not wrapped at all.
When it comes to business-related gifts (client gifts, employee gifts, donor gifts, etc.), most people feel the need to give one around the classic milestones or holidays (Christmas, when the client signs up, an employee work anniversary, etc.). The downside of giving gifts within these typical milestones is that they are often expected. Furthermore, many of the recipients will be receiving gifts from other friends, partners, and organizations during these times. So, if you’re looking to make an impact on the individual and differentiate your brand, it will be more difficult during these “crowded moments” in the recipient’s life.