The Psychology behind gift wrapping

11th August 2021|Uncategorized|

It is perhaps only a few that, on a daily basis, think about why gift wrapping is so important. Of course, in practical terms, gift wrapping has the function of hiding the surprise within the package. But what psychology lies in gift wrapping, both for the recipient and for the giver?

Why is gift wrapping important?

In 2018, the global product market for gift wrapping was valued at no less than $15.1 billion USD, and it is predicted that this number will only increase in the future. Therefore, there is no doubt that gift wrapping is a gigantic industry. But the question is: why is more and more money being invested in packaging every year?

The beautiful packaging creates positive relationships

In the field of psychological research, several studies have been made over time about psychology and the significance of gift wrapping. As early as 1992, the professor of marketing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Dr. Howard conducted a psychological study on gift wrapping. The study was to test whether a wrapped gift had a positive effect on the recipient.

And here the result was unequivocal: Yes, gift wrapping has such a positive impact. Further, the study showed that those who received a wrapped gift were happier compared to those who received an unwrapped gift.

This pattern is confirmed by recent studies in the field. For example, a U.S. study from 2019 shows that gift wrapping is crucial when it comes to exchanges between acquaintances, i.e., people who are not in a family, relationship, or have close friends. According to the study, the recipient here will typically like the gift better if it is wrapped neatly. The reason must primarily be found in the psychology of gift wrapping:

“[…] neatness serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself.” 

There lies a symbolic reason in gift wrapping. Nice gift wrapping is a symbol that the gift giver is setting a price on the relationship with the recipient. As a result, it creates a more positive experience overall for the receiver.

The joy of anticipation positively affects the perception of your brand

But what is it about this positive experience?

According to a newer study, a large part of the answer is found in the joy that gift wrapping brings to the recipient. The study, first and foremost, confirms that gift wrapping is a factor that affects how attractive the gift is perceived by the recipient. Further, the study shows that participants were more likely to express joy over a gift that was gift-wrapped over one that was not.

The gift’s wrapping and outer appearance have a lot to do with creating the joy of anticipation in the recipient. This joy, together with the surprise of the gift itself, will not be present if a gift is given unwrapped, and this will be immediately noticeable.

In the same way, the study shows that gift wrapping raises certain expectations in the recipient in relation to the product. As a company, you have ample opportunity to already give a positive first impression before the product is unwrapped.