This paper aims to explore gift personalization, i.e. the design of gifts by givers on mass-personalization platforms, from the perspective of the gift recipient.
Given the exploratory objectives of this study, the qualitative approach was deemed suitable. Two complementary qualitative studies (i.e. semi-structured interviews and critical incidents) have been conducted, and the narratives have been thematically analyzed.
Gift recipients value gift personalization because of the utility they derive from the product, as well as the ability of the personalized gift to express the giver. Recipients recognize the capacity of the personalized gift to communicate symbolically the giver; they appreciate not only the enhanced attributes of the end product but also the process that led to it, which is imagined as creative and risky. The inherent expressivity of the personalized gift makes it highly valuable in the recipient’s eyes, even when it fails to please him or her.
This research redefines the boundaries of personalization value based on the perceptions of consumers who are not involved in the design process; highlights implications of personalization for firms targeting givers as users of their mass-personalization platforms; and proposes a research agenda to further investigate personalization in marketing.