Which Gifts Mean the Most? DPA Study

From natural diamonds to one-of-a-kind objects and brands, consumer demand for ‘authenticity’ is morethan a trend!


As consumers begin shopping online and in stores for gifts this holiday season,new research shows thatauthenticityis central to the value of a gift, and authenticity brings the mostjoy to recipients, according to a study released today by Yale University professor and psychologist Dr.George E. Newman.


The study, Consumer Preference for Authenticity and Naturalness, examines the psychology behindwhich holiday gifts mean the most and why, providing proof of consumer affinity for merchandise that is authentic. Consumers say authenticity, actually being as described, is not just a trend.


The researchechoes previous authenticity studies where neuroscientists have found that the pleasure people reportwhen viewing authentic works of art is correlated with activation within the brain.


“In today’s online marketplace, people are deluged with more choices than ever before,” said Dr.Newman, Associate Professor of Management and Marketing at the Yale School of Management. “Butfrom natural diamonds to authentic brands, such as Apple or North Face, people are drawn to itemsbecause of their authenticity.”


An item can be authentic in several ways:

• Materials: A cashmere sweater is more authentic than a synthetic replica.• Origin: A Louis Vuitton handbag manufactured in the company’s original workshop in Paris isvalued as more authentic than an identical bag manufactured in the company’s Californiaworkshop.


• History: A painting that was physically created by Pablo Picasso is worth millions of dollars,while a replica (that was never touched by Picasso) is virtually worthless.Naturalness: Natural diamonds formed by the earth three billion years ago are valued as moreauthentic than synthetic replicas created in factories for commercial purposes.


Key findings from Dr. Newman’s Consumer Preference for Authenticity and Naturalness include:

• Authenticity is appreciated by all ages: This was true for consumers, grouped by ages thatspanned from 18-80.• Consumers most appreciated specific authentic items: Of the 8 categories studied, frequentlycited in consumer gift studies.


The top gifts consumers appreciated were: 1:An authentic branded product—such as a North Face jacket (93%) or an Apple Watch(86%), 2: A natural diamond ring (86%), or 3: A product made with authentic quality materials, such as a cashmere sweater (88%). 4: Inauthentic products are disappointing: Some of the items people were most disappointed inreceiving included lab-grown diamonds (31%) and knockoff shoes (36%).


People would rather receive something else entirely, instead of a knockoff or fake: In place ofa cashmere sweater, people would rather receive a wool sweater as a gift than a sweater withsynthetic composition mimicking cashmere.


“Objects can radiate authenticity in many ways, from the natural materials or traditional craftsmanshipthat compose an item, to the origin of the item’s production or heritage of its brand story.” said KristinaBuckleyKayel, Managing Director of DPA North America.


“The common theme found throughoutauthentic products, however, is their capacity to bestow emotional and sentimental value, whetherpurchased for one’s self or as a gift for a loved one.”Kayel adds. One additional finding highlighted that for identical authentic items, the origin or the history of theitem’s story significantly influenced preference.


When evaluating the importance of qualities such asrarity, origin and value over time, natural diamonds patterned closer to one-of-a-kind authentic items,such as a Babe Ruth autographed baseball, than luxury items. Meanwhile, lab-grown diamondspatterned closer to cubic zirconia. An item can also be valued as authentic because it is produced by atrusted, authentic brand, such as an Apple Watch, Nike shoes or parka from The North Face.

  • Which Gifts Mean the Most? DPA Study