Bankrate reported the findings of a survey this week, suggesting that 53% “of the general population preferred general-purpose gift cards.” These cards, unlike brand-specific gift cards (for iTunes or Best Buy), allow a gift recipient to spend their gift allowance however and wherever they choose. But think about this for a moment—if everyone gave everyone else a general-purpose gift card, it would effectively eliminate the purpose for giving entirely!
Envision this with me: If I give you a $35 general-purpose gift card (GPGC) and you do the same in return, we’ve effectively given each other nothing at all. We could just skip the whole charade and spend our own money on ourselves.
In giving each other the opportunity to buy anything, we’re actually giving nothing at all.
Why the rise in the popularity of GPGCs? Bankrate answers that question:
“It’s a much easier, more popular way to provide a gift to somebody,” says Madeline Aufseeser, senior analyst at Aite Group. “If I don’t know your particular taste or size, then I am safe with a gift card.”
It’s easier. It’s safer.
It doesn’t require you to really know or care about a person. It saves you the time of applying any meaningful thought to what makes your friend or loved one unique.
It eliminates the possibility that you’ll read someone incorrectly and guess wrong, but in playing it safe you’re also guaranteed not to get it right. Not to leave a memorable impact.
So if you want to show that special someone that you really don’t care that much about them this holiday season, by all means, get them a general-purpose gift card.
Heck, maybe we could even start a movement among our family and friends openly acknowledging that we’re all too busy and we care far too little to engage in the antiquated notion of purchasing gifts that symbolize our mutual affinity for one another. Let’s just agree to ditch gifts all together and go on individual shopping sprees for ourselves.
Tis the season.
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I’m a speaker, author, Head of Wealth Management for Triad Financial Advisors. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.