Experiences Edge Out Stuff for Relationship-Building

When it comes to rewarding top performers, numerous studies show that experiences have an edge over material gifts in terms of memorability and strengthening the relationship between the giver and the recipient.

Professors Cassie Mogilner and Cindy Chan recently authored a paper entitled “Experiential Gifts Are More Socially Connecting Than Material Gifts.” After reviewing numerous studies into gift giving, Mogilner and Chan discovered that “when recipients receive an experience, regardless of whether they share in that experience with the gift-giver, they feel more connected to the gift-giver as a result.”

Why not offer the best of both?

Jeff Broudy, president of United Incentives, says a quote from Maya Angelou inspired him to embrace the concept of gifting experiences. “She said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I started using that as a way to encourage our own team to focus more on the customer-facing experience.”

The gifting experience is a force multiplier of engagement between the host and their participants. “Making them feel they are worthy of a quality brand makes them a quality brand,” Broudy says. “The fact they have coworkers or supervisors telling them they look really good makes them feel even better. The fact that every time they take [their sunglasses] out they have a memory of the sunny day they stood outside and tried them on is great, too. The quality of the product is the quality of the delivery. And the quality of the delivery is not just making sure you have the right inventory or having the right styles for the right audience, but that they actually feel engaged and cared for – a little bit pampered.”