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Gifting Goes Social

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s time to start figuring out who to buy presents for. But this holiday season, the gift giving game is a little different. Why? Because group gifting websites are starting to pop up all over the place!

1. GiftikiGiftiki is perhaps the newest kid on the block, but what it lacks in experience, it makes up for with site design and its catchy and kitschy name (especially when compared to eDivvy.com). Here’s how Giftiki works. You join Giftiki through Facebook, choose a friend and post a small gift (up to $10) to their wall. Other friends (if they join Giftiki) can post their own small monetary gifts and the money just piles up. I’m not sure if there’s a maximum dollar amount, but eventually the recipient can go to Giftiki and redeem that pile of money for a wide variety of gift cards (e.g. American Express, Amazon, Macy’s, etc.)

2. Let’s Gift ItLet’s Gift It has been around since 2010, and while it seems to offer the same basic idea as other group gifting websites, its landing page (from a design standpoint) isn’t as alluring as Giftiki. That said, Let’s Gift It provides a little more structure on the front end and a big “Surprise!” element on the back end, which may be more appealing to certain people. Here’s how it works. You start by choosing the occasion and the gift delivery date. Then you select the gift. And finally, you pitch in your own contribution and invite your friends. So while Giftiki comes across as an open-source, everyone-can-see-the-process, money-pooling platform, Let’s Gift It offers more control to the person who chooses the occasion and the gift in the first place.

3. The Gifts Project

What makes this group gifting website so interesting is not just the fact that it got acquired by ebay, but because it’s more focused on building group gifting plugins for businesses. As you can see in the video below, the social plugin they’ve developed is a much more advanced version of the Facebook “like” button, allowing people who are browsing an e-commerce site to immediately invite their friends to split the cost of that item as a gift for someone else. It’s very clever and could lead to all sorts of retail sales. But how long will it take before Facebook creates a group gifting plugin of their own?

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Group gifting is still in its infancy, and on the surface, all these sites seem promising. By allowing people to more easily pool their money together, these businesses are clearly fulfilling an unmet need. However, if group gifting becomes the norm in the next couple years, I wonder if we’ll start to get annoyed by our friends’ good intentions. After all, if one or two of my friends asks me to chip in $5 or $10 for a gift for someone, I’m game. But if you have 300 or more Facebook friends and 10% of them ask you to chip in around Christmas time for a variety of gifts for other people (who may be further removed in your friend network), that could start to get a little annoying.

What’s most interesting about these sites is how they alter the social dynamic of gift giving. With traditional gift giving, you don’t normally talk about the cost of the gift. Talking about price is taboo. It’s the thought or intention behind the gift that counts. With group gifting however, the monetary contributions become transparent, and the price of the gift comes into the foreground, revealing how much we’re willing to spend on our “friends”, which could end up disrupting the carefully calibrated social harmony of gift giving in general.

What do you think? Is group gifting a good thing or a bad thing? Will you try group gifting this holiday season?

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