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Faculty Insights

Holiday Shopping: WSB Faculty Share Tips To Consider This Year

By Clare Becker | Photography by Jeff Miller/UW Madison

November 23, 2021

present with UW wrapping and big bow

Between the ongoing pandemic, the emptier store shelves, and the ever-present need to stick to a budget, holiday shopping and gift giving might feel especially fraught this season. But there’s still festive fun to be had. We asked Wisconsin School of Business faculty members to share their insights on how shoppers can think outside the gift wrapped box to reduce stress and find just the right present for everyone on their list.

Here are highlights from their responses:

Joann Peck, Irwin Maier Professor of Business, professor of marketing

“Unless you are already sure you want to purchase an item, be careful what you touch when holiday shopping! Merely touching a product increases unplanned purchasing. This is because touching a product increases the feeling of ownership—it feels more like my product, which increases the likelihood of purchase and how much you are willing to pay for it. So, beware of what you touch. You may end up purchasing more than you expected!”

Peter Lukszys, distinguished lecturer in operations and information management

“During the supply chain traffic jam, I’m thinking about giving more digital and service gifts this holiday season—maybe a trainer session, meal kit subscription, e-book, or donation to a choice of charity. I would also consider shopping locally at a small business. Small businesses are at a disadvantage over big-box retailers that not only have deeper pockets to weather logistics price increases, but also have more clout with ocean, rail, and truck carriers leading to their freight getting higher priority. Chartering small ships that bypass the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as one measure big-box retailers are taking, obviously isn’t an option for small businesses.”

Evan Polman, Kuechenmeister-Bascom Professor in Business, associate professor of marketing

“When you’re wondering what present to give someone, try giving something you’d like yourself. Chances are, the other person will like it too! Even better, get them something you’ve already bought for yourself—and this part is key: tell them you got the same thing for yourself. My research shows that people will like a gift more when they know it’s something the giver uses too. This is because people feel closer to givers when they own products they have in common. Thankfully, givers can easily leverage this tendency by giving to others what they buy themselves.”

Read more faculty insights.