Buying a gift for Christmas, birthday, or new year is always stressful.

There is always an expectancy-reality barrier waiting for you. You are lucky if you have an intimate relationship with your friend. You can predict your friend’s expectations and needs more accurately. Also, intimacy is a credit for you if you mess up.

The second problem may be having too many options to select. When you have unlimited sources, unlimited options, it never gets easy to choose something.* Gift is not an exception. In addition, if your friend knows your budget and possibilities, that shifts expectations.

These are the most known issues of buying a gift. But I have another reason most people are not aware. Most of the time, buying a gift is an opportunity (or curse) to impress someone. We are social creatures, and we beg for acceptance of our community from the inside. This impulse causes that buying a gift is always an identity construction process. A gift tells a story that you are funny or thoughtful or rich or joker. Nearly all of our consumption of products is related to our identity. We attach meaning to ourselves by the products we buy. We never realize something like that, but we know it unconsciously.

If you are in a good relationship with your friend, it is easy to buy a gift. You don’t need to impress a real friend. We want to impress others. A real friend never judges you with a gift. You can even forget to buy a gift. No problem. What about others? Failing to buy a gift makes you irresponsible, selfish, or thoughtless.

As a marketer or brand executive, you must care about this motivation people have. You must invest in the insight that consumers impress others by buying your product as a gift. Remember to tell a story that your product is a great gift to impress others for the holiday season or other special occasions (like Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversaries)

Branding is not selling. Branding is creating meaning for consumers.

* The paradox of choices — Barry Shwartz