Seth Godin had a good post today stating that Gift Cards are for Chumps. First, I would state that the term “chump” is vastly underutilized, so I’m glad to see it. Second is what I feel is his more important point: Christmas has become a holiday about shopping, not about giving.
I’ve noticed that the purpose behind purchases made with disposable income has changed. I first reached Seth’s point with my own eyes while discussing Christmas gifts with my wife. She was not happy that I have an Amazon wish list of things I really want. She felt that there was no surprise if I got items off my wish list, and that’s when I got the bulb over my head – I said “I’m really not into being surprised, and if I got everything on that list I’d be happy – so really this is about what you want to feel about giving me a gift.” Being a smart husband I left out the logical extension of this arguement – You want to try and surprise me with a great gift I don’t know about, even at the risk of getting me something I don’t want.
The sad thing is that I also realized I do this to myself. One day after buying a DVD at Best Buy I came home and realized I was throwing it on a pile of about a dozen other DVDs I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. Again the bulb lit up – I was not buying the DVD to watch it, I was laying down money for the fantasy of me actually sitting down to have a quiet night of Jet Li goodness. DVDs are no different than lottery tickets, I’m paying for the dream not reality.
So, what’s the Marketing punchline here? One is what I think of as a sad one – the culture of selling crap that nobody REALLY needs has no end in sight. The other is that maybe some people will stand up and do something worthwhile for the holidays rather than buying more crap that will end up in the landfill by the summer.