Benefits and Costs of Restriction: A Comparison of Unrestricted, Restricted Gift Card Spending and Cash Spending
Mu, Di Sabrina
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Archival data of unrestricted and restricted gift card transactions was compared with national level consumer spending data from both the U.S. and Canada to investigate the similarities and differences in purchase pattern. The objective for this comparison was to investigate the motivational power of unrestricted gift card compared to cash rewards, restricted gift card and other hedonic tangible incentive. Through results interpretation, the data supported the hypotheses that people perceive and use unrestricted gift card as a cash carrying medium rather than a tangible reward. A restricted gift card that is hedonic by design constrains its recipients to hedonic purchase and removes the guilt and eliminates the justification process. The results also suggested that the elimination of justification seems to be associated to not only the hedonic dimension of goods/services but also transaction size.