Buying gifts for multiple recipients: How culture affects whose desires are prioritized

Ruomeng Wu, Mary Steffel, Sharon Shavitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gift purchasing is an important factor driving the retail industry around the world, and yet, many gift selections do not match recipient preferences. Three studies examine how consumers from different cultures select gifts for multiple recipients and when gifts deviate from recipients’ preferences. Both U.S. and Chinese consumers who are shopping for multiple recipients tend to pass up recipients’ preferred gifts in favor of getting distinct gifts for each recipient, and Chinese givers are more likely than U.S. givers to choose gifts that deviate from recipients’ preferences overall. The criteria that consumers use to decide whose preferences to prioritize differ across cultures. U.S. givers prioritize recipients they like better, but Chinese givers prioritize better-liked recipients less consistently. Chinese prioritize higher-status recipients, but U.S. givers do not. We further show that these national cultural differences in prioritizing higher-status recipients are paralleled by differences in power distance belief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Choice for others
  • Cultural difference
  • Decision making
  • Gift giving
  • Overindividuation
  • Power distance belief

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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