SHANGHAI: Two thirds of China’s high net worth individuals (HNWIs) gave themselves gifts last year – and brands can leverage that mentality to enhance emotional connection, a new report suggests.

The China High Net Worth Individuals Gifting White Paper 2017, from research group Hurun Report and media planning agency MEC, was based on a survey of 507 HNWIs – with an average age of 41 and an annual disposable income of 4.2 million yuan – in 14 mainland cities.

While family members were the usual recipients of gifts, 67% of HNWIs had also given themselves gifts during the past year, with the practice more common among women (74%).

"Self-gifting", the report noted, fits in with popular concepts such as "xiao que xing" ("little but certain happiness"), "a sense of ceremony", and "love and pamper myself".

So, rather than simply buying something, it suggested, making it a “gift to me” brings greater joy and satisfaction. And brands can tap into that attitude to build emotional connections.

More generally, brands need to consider various giftees' roles, gifting occasions, emotional needs and gifting motivations – such as expressing filial piety, expressing love and care, creating surprises and special memories or sending blessings.

And when choosing a gift, the white paper reported that HNWIs always consider the product itself, the brand and the price.

In terms of product, "good quality and craftsmanship" (87%), "practicality" (85%), "uniqueness" (77%) and "attractive packaging" (74%) were regarded as the most important factors.

For brand, important factors included "high-end, to gain face" (90%), "well-known brand" (83%) and "whether the brand fits with giftee's self-image" (80%).

With regards to the price, the main consideration for gifters was whether the "price meets giftee's expectations" (61%).

Brands seeking to reach these buyers will need to understand the roles played by the different purchase channels.

In domestic purchasing channels, for example, 97% of HNWIs had brought gifts in bricks-and-mortar stores. Among these, "domestic brand stores, counters" (76%), "domestic department stores, shopping centers" (68%) and "through friends" (58%) were the most common purchasing channels.

Three quarters (74%) of HNWIs had purchased gifts overseas, while 69% had shopped for gifts online.

The white paper also observed an emerging trend of paying for unique experiences as gifts rather than physical products.

Data sourced from Hurun Report; additional content by WARC staff