Chinese cultural values and gift‐giving behavior

Wang Qian (Singapore Chinese Chamber, Institute of Business, Singapore)
Mohammed Abdur Razzaque (The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Kau Ah Keng (National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 3 July 2007



The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a study undertaken to investigate the gift‐giving behavior of consumers in the People's Republic of China (PRC) during the Chinese New Year and the influence exerted by Chinese cultural values on such behavior.


Using a survey among a large sample of people in the city of Tianjin, gift‐giving behavior was measured by the importance accorded to gift‐giving, the amount given, the effort spent on gift selection and brand orientation when selecting gifts. The cultural values examined were renqing (human obligations), guanxi (relationship), yuan (destiny or fate), reciprocity, family orientation and Mianzi (face). Factor analysis and structural equation modeling were used to analyze the data.


Results indicated that Chinese cultural values as a whole as well as most of its components investigated in this research had positive effects on the various gift‐giving behaviors. The “face” component was, however, found to affect only the importance attached to gift‐giving, the amount given and the choice of brand.

Research limitations/implications

Research results should be interpreted with caution as the study was limited to Tianjin – one of the several major cities in the PRC. Also the Chinese New Year may not be representative of other occasions when gifts are exchanged.

Practical implications

The results of this investigation would benefit practitioners involved in the marketing of “gift items” in the PRC by providing them with a clear understanding of the general consumption patterns of the PRC urban consumers, insights into the various antecedents of gift‐giving and linking them with various aspects of Chinese cultural values. The research findings would also benefit researchers, academics and others interested in the PRC market by making them familiar with some of the salient aspects that characterize Chinese consumers.


This study develops a new model describing the relationships among values (Chinese cultural value and personal value), motivation for gift‐giving and gift‐giving behavior. It also develops new scales for measuring the constructs such as Chinese cultural values, motivation for gift‐giving and gift‐giving behavior.



Qian, W., Abdur Razzaque, M. and Ah Keng, K. (2007), "Chinese cultural values and gift‐giving behavior", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 214-228.

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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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