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Unwrapping Cultural Insights: The Intricacies of Gifting Behaviors in India


Gifting holds a profound place in cultures worldwide, acting as a conduit for expressing respect, appreciation, and affection. Within the rich tapestry of Indian communities, this tradition transcends mere material value, weaving a complex narrative of familial bonds, friendships, and community ties. As part of a recent user research project with @ UCC, we embarked on a journey to unravel the nuanced dynamics of India's gifting landscape.



The Cultural Tapestry of Gift-Giving

In the diverse fabric of India, special occasions witness the exchange of a myriad of items, ranging from jewelry and clothing to delectable food items. However, what caught our attention was the cultural undercurrents that significantly shape the choices made in the art of gifting.


North vs. South: Cash Gifts and Cultural Perspectives

Delving deeper into our research, a fascinating revelation emerged – the cultural nuances influencing the preferences for certain types of gifts. In South India, a subset of participants exhibited a reluctance towards cash gifting. Their apprehension stemmed from concerns about the potential negative impact on children, fearing the encouragement of habits like gambling or an unhealthy obsession with money. In stark contrast, the North showcased a prevailing trend where cash gifts often took precedence over physical items.


Breaking Assumptions: A Lesson in Open-Minded Research

Reflecting on this discovery, I was confronted with my own assumptions about the universality of gifting behavior. The notion that the act of giving is a universal symbol of love and appreciation was challenged. It became evident that my upbringing in a culture where gifting money was the norm might have inadvertently led to an oversight of the diverse perspectives on this practice.

This revelation underscored the paramount importance of setting aside personal biases in user research. Embracing diverse viewpoints and being open to new ideas and perspectives proved to be invaluable. In the realm of research, approaching each study with an open mind is crucial, acknowledging and respecting the variations in cultural attitudes and behaviors, even when they diverge from our own experiences or beliefs.


From Research to Reality: Implications for Product Development

The significance of these cultural insights extends beyond the realm of research, permeating into product development and marketing strategies. Understanding regional preferences, whether for specific product types or payment methods, plays a pivotal role in shaping how products are marketed, the messaging employed, and the channels utilized for promotion.

In conclusion, our exploration into India's gifting behaviors unveiled a captivating tapestry of cultural intricacies. It served as a poignant reminder of the need to appreciate and integrate diverse perspectives in our research endeavors, offering a roadmap to a more nuanced understanding of user behaviors and preferences. As we unwrap the layers of gifting traditions, we uncover not just presents but profound insights into the diverse and rich cultures that shape our global community.


Reflection by Muskan Gupta, User Researcher

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