This is a long shot! I was wondering if anyone could point me to any behavioral economics or other economics research on perceived value, specifically I'm looking at why some people don't redeem activity gift cards before they expire.

My hypothesis is that time doing something else they choose, is perceived as better used than time doing the activity that the gift card pays for.

For context, some of these gift cards are are worth \$100 - $500 and generally the activity they pay for is chosen by the gift giver who would know about the likes and dislikes of the receiver.

I know this is quite general, but I'm working as an analyst in a company that sells gift cards and I would like to have some background research before I look to draw any conclusions from the data, I know that some people use them, some people don't and I can see some patterns in variables in the two groups, but I'd like to bring some theoretical rigor to the analysis.


1 Answer 1


A classical economic explanation for the phenomenon you describe is that the gift giver does not know the receivers preferences well enough. Prominently, Joel Waldfogel makes this point in his fun paper "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas":

I find that holiday gift giving destroys between one-third and one-tenth of the value of gifts.

This article pops up in the public domain every year around the holidays (example in the NYT) and its idea of course also applies to all other gift-giving-and-receiving situations. Of course many people (including economists) disagree with that notion and you find quite a lot of comments and replies on that paper in the AER, just type the title of the paper into google.scholar.


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