Parental Gift Giving Behaviour at Christmas: An Exploratory Study
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Christmas is generally described as cultural, ritual and sociological phenomena of devotion, community and consumption. The topic of this dissertation concerns a specific stream of research within the general domain of consumer behaviour. The focal objective of this study is to develop a model and generate theory about parental gift giving behaviour at Christmas. My study is unique because it attempts to model parental gift giving at Christmas in a consumer behaviour context. Consumer behaviour theory suggests that parents seek information about possible gifts, set selection criteria for gift purchase, evaluate alternatives and buy the gifts for their children. Following this broad view of theory, parents respond to children's request behaviour, evaluate the suitability of any requests and purchase the approved or appropriate items as Christmas gifts. Children are encouraged to request any gifts that they desire, and these gift requests are often for specific brands. In general Christmas gifts are selected from children's products and brands and there is extensive debate and research relating to television advertising and children's request behaviour at Christmas. However, parents are not exposed to the same sources of advertising as their children and there is little evidence of research into the very important topics concerning motives, strategies, evaluations and the giving of brands that characterize parents' Christmas gift giving to their children. The significance of this dissertation resides in the development and presentation of a comprehensive model for the conceptualisation of parental gift giving at Christmas, based on antecedents to parents' social roles of gift giving and direct and indirect behavioural outcomes of those gift giving roles. Measures for each of these outcomes are developed and gender effects are also explored. The sample frame was described as a parent with at least one child between the ages of 3-8 years and a survey package was delivered to parents of children from participating schools and kindergartens. There were 2560 surveys distributed, with 450 individual responses representing a return rate of 17.6%. The 450 cases available for analysis were factor analysed and formed into composite and latent variables to facilitate statistical analysis via Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression, which is an appropriate procedure when the relationships are unknown or theoretical. The results of the research have two distinct streams. The first stream relates to the creation and validation of measurement constructs for the concept of Christmas spirit, parental gift giving, request communication, brand benefits and use of information sources, as well as involvement in giving gifts and involvement in giving brands as gifts. The second stream relates to the relationships between variables; the results support the relationships antecedent to the parents' social roles of gift giving. There is a significant relationship of Christmas spirit with involvement in giving gifts and with parental gift giving roles. A significant relationship also exists between involvement in giving gifts and parental gift giving roles. However, there is limited support for propositions related to outcomes of parental gift giving roles where there are significant relations between these roles and Christmas request communication, brand benefits and information sources. There is also a significant, indirect relationship between brand benefits and involvement in giving brands as gifts. As part of the second stream, gender differences were examined; the results show that mothers' Christmas spirit has no effect on their gift giving roles and gift giving roles have no significant effect on request communication and information source usage. On the other hand, the results show that the fathers' gift giving activities reflect the relationships outlined in the parental model. The study has academic implications for sociology and consumer behaviour disciplines and commercial implications for manufacturers, advertisers, brand owners and retailers. Further investigations will be necessary to incorporate other elements into the parental gift-giving model and to extend the theory toward a fuller understanding of the parental Christmas gift giving phenomena.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Marketing and Management
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