Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Gifts to whom? Towards a network view of gift receivers

Branco-Illodo, Ines; Heath, Teresa; Tynan, Caroline

Gifts to whom? Towards a network view of gift receivers Thumbnail


Ines Branco-Illodo

Teresa Heath

Caroline Tynan


This research paper aims to understand how givers characterise and manage their gift giving networks by drawing on attachment theory (AT). This responds to the need to illuminate the givers–receivers’ networks beyond traditional role-based taxonomies and explore their changing dynamics.

A multi-method, qualitative approach was used involving 158 gift experiences captured in online diaries and 27 follow-up interviews.

Results show that givers organise receivers into gifting networks that are grounded in a contextual understanding of their relationships. The identification of direct, surrogate and mediated bonds reflects three different dimensions that inform gift-giving networks of support, care or belongingness rooted in AT. The relative position of gift receivers in this network influences the nature of support, the type of social influences and relationship stability in the network.

Research limitations/implications
This study illustrates the complexity of relationships based on the data collected over two specific periods of time; thus, there might be further types of receivers within a giver’s network that the data did not capture. This limitation was minimised by asking about other possible receivers in interviews.

Practical implications
The findings set a foundation for gift retailers to assist gift givers in finding gifts that match their perceived relations to the receivers by adapting communication messages and offering advice aligned with specific relationship contexts.

This study illuminates gift-giving networks by proposing a taxonomy of gifting networks underpinned by AT that can be applied to study different relationship contexts from the perspective of the giver. This conceptualisation captures different levels of emotional support, social influences and relationship stability, which have an impact on the receivers’ roles within the giver’s network. Importantly, results reveal that the gift receiver is not always the target of gift-giving. The target can be someone whom the giver wants to please or an acquaintance they share with the receiver with whom they wish to reinforce bonds.


Branco-Illodo, I., Heath, T., & Tynan, C. (2023). Gifts to whom? Towards a network view of gift receivers. European Journal of Marketing, 57(10), 2860-2892.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 27, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 27, 2023
Publication Date Mar 27, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 27, 2023
Journal European Journal of Marketing
Print ISSN 0309-0566
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 10
Pages 2860-2892
Keywords Gift-giving; gift-receivers; gifting; networks; relationships; attachment networks
Public URL
Publisher URL


Downloadable Citations