I’m not as regular a reader of Seth Godin as I once was. Not quite sure why that is. He’s one of the smartest marketing guys I know and no slouch when it comes to life’s major questions. Like. What’s with Gift Cards?
In case you had any doubt that human beings are irrational creatures, driven by stories, consider the case of the gift card.
Christmas has become a holiday about shopping, not about giving. Case in point: the $100 gift card, now available from banks, from stores, even in a rack at the supermarket.
Last year, more than $8,000,000,000 was wasted on these cards. Not in the value spent, but in fees and breakage. When you give a card, if it doesn’t get used, someone ends up keeping your money, and it’s not the recipient. People spent more than eight billion dollars for nothing… buying a product that isn’t as good as cash.
Along the way, we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift (“go buy what you want”) is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest.
Seth suggests starting a new meme – Gift Cards are for Chumps. I’d buy into that.