Westerner consumers more receptive to unexpected gifts than East Asian ones

July 21st, 2009 - 12:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 21 (ANI): A new piece of research has found Westerner consumers to be more receptive to unexpected promotional gifts than their East Asian counterparts.

Published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the study report states that people from diverse cultures react differently to the element of surprise.

The authors-Ana Valenzuela (Baruch College), Barbara Mellers (University of California, Berkeley), and Judi Strebel (San Francisco State University)-say that the researchers explored different cultural responses to promotional gifts, such as gift cards, mugs, snacks, t-shirts, etc.

They say that four studies were conducted in which participants received a gift as a token of appreciation for participating in a survey.

The authors say that some of the participants had the prior knowledge or the gifts, while others were surprised.

They add that irrespective of what the gifts were, participants hailing from the U.S. were found to enjoy the surprise more than those from Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

“Why does this phenomenon happen? For Westerners, an unexpected gift reinforces feelings of control over their environment. For East Asians, an unexpected gift indicates imbalance and prophesizes bad fortune. Our findings suggest that East Asians’ experience of surprise is closely connected to their motivation to seek emotional balance,” the authors write.

The final experiment involved approaching bookstore patrons in California and Hong Kong, and asking them to participate in a short survey.

The authors say that those ready to participate were told that they would be given a gift as a token of appreciation.

Half of the participants entered the “Lucky Game” to win the gift, while the other half received the gift without participating in the game.

East Asians’ enjoyment of the gift increased when it was attributable to luck.

Based on that finding, the researchers came to the conclusion that framing surprises as “good luck” or “good fortune” could enhance East Asians’ enjoyment of a shifting environment.

“Marketers often use pleasant surprises to influence consumers’ brand evaluations and purchase decisions. Unexpected marketing activities must accommodate cross-cultural differences,” the authors write. (ANI)

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