The power of gifts

When my partner first moved to Adelaide, our house very quickly filled up with bottles of lovely wine from various wineries around the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley. It's not that we are obsessive wine collectors; it's just that, being new to South Australia, he had wanted to see the sights, so we visited a number of the wineries for which the state is rightfully famous. The thing was, if he had done a tasting and sampled some wines, wherever we were, he was utterly incapable of walking out of the cellar door without buying something. He just couldn't do it. Welcome to the phenomenon of reciprocity.

The urge to repay favours is one of the strongest in human culture. Some go so far as to say that reciprocity is at the core of what makes us human. The noted anthropologist Richard Leakey  claims that we are human because our ancestors learned to share food and skills in a network of indebtedness, and that the communal sense of future obligation allowed the development of human society.

"Well that's all very interesting," I hear you say, "but what does it mean to me?"

It means you should give things to your customers. I'm not talking about fluff like fridge magnets and mouse pads - I'm talking about valuable things like advice and knowledge. It doesn't cost you anything to share useful information with your customers, but that information is a gift. And we're all hard-wired to feel an obligation and a relationship to the people who give us gifts.

Simple, isn't it?

Kelly Wright Head Chilli Chocolatier