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Understanding what Christmas gifts mean to children

Understanding what Christmas gifts mean to children Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand what Christmas gifts mean to children by examining the features and styles of the letters that children write to Santa Claus. Design/methodology/approach – Contents and style of 314 authentic letters sent by UK children to Santa Claus were analyzed using an underlying interpretive consumer research approach. Findings – Letters to Santa contain expressions of needs, wants, desires, hopes and dreams related to Christmas. The majority of letters were identified as expressions of wants and desires, while only a few letters contained features of needs or dreaming. This implies that for children Christmas seems to be a rather unspiritual festival concerning having things rather than dreams coming true. Research limitations/implications – The generalization of findings is limited to Western welfare societies. Letters are not originally written for research purposes, and therefore lack background information about the writers and their writing situations. Practical implications – Analysis of letters to Santa offers an opportunity to identify the spirit of postmodern consumption with its contradictory aspects, and understand children as consumers. It is essential to recognize and understand the nature of the desires of today's children as they are an influential set of consumers. Originality/value – The paper offers insights about the contemporary Christmas gift giving from the point of view of children. Contrary to previous studies, the central focus of the analysis is on gift request styles and letters as meaningful entities, not just on product categories or brands as such. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers Emerald Publishing

Understanding what Christmas gifts mean to children

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1747-3616
DOI
10.1108/17473610910986053
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand what Christmas gifts mean to children by examining the features and styles of the letters that children write to Santa Claus. Design/methodology/approach – Contents and style of 314 authentic letters sent by UK children to Santa Claus were analyzed using an underlying interpretive consumer research approach. Findings – Letters to Santa contain expressions of needs, wants, desires, hopes and dreams related to Christmas. The majority of letters were identified as expressions of wants and desires, while only a few letters contained features of needs or dreaming. This implies that for children Christmas seems to be a rather unspiritual festival concerning having things rather than dreams coming true. Research limitations/implications – The generalization of findings is limited to Western welfare societies. Letters are not originally written for research purposes, and therefore lack background information about the writers and their writing situations. Practical implications – Analysis of letters to Santa offers an opportunity to identify the spirit of postmodern consumption with its contradictory aspects, and understand children as consumers. It is essential to recognize and understand the nature of the desires of today's children as they are an influential set of consumers. Originality/value – The paper offers insights about the contemporary Christmas gift giving from the point of view of children. Contrary to previous studies, the central focus of the analysis is on gift request styles and letters as meaningful entities, not just on product categories or brands as such.

Journal

Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible MarketersEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 28, 2009

Keywords: Christmas; Children (age groups); Perception

References