Why we buy souvenirs
There are many souvenirs you can bring back from your travels. A uniquely colored shell from the beach can be a great souvenir, equally a funny fridge magnet, but also an artistic object of great value.
But why do we buy souvenirs and mementos? The following reasons answer the question:
We want to have a symbol to remember something: a place, an atmosphere, a taste, but also conversations and their contents. Then, we want to bring back gifts for our loved ones at home. Sometimes we also want to take the opportunity to purchase something unusual as a gift for others important to us on a special occasion. In any case, it depends on the type of the person.
We thought to write our observations about why people buy souvenirs based on discussions with thousands of visitors we have met in our store in Katakolon, the port of Olympia, Greece.
Souvenirs as Memory
This seems to be a very important part of the souvenir shopping experience. People want something that helps the memories stay fresh and alive.
A small piece that originates from the place you traveled and captures the moments of fun and relaxation you lived serves as a “memory pointer”. These purchases are a symbol of having a nice life besides everyday normality, and people always want to be reminded, to look back on nice places they have been and nice things they have done.
Souvenirs as Gifts
People want to purchase something nice for friends and family, because they are thinking about the loved ones that could not join them during vacation.
Often, this also shows an attempt to share the experiences somewhat. Also, there is always a nephew, a parent, a colleague or a friendly neighbor to whom you want to show that you are thinking about them. Maybe the gift is for someone who helps by watering the plants in your garden while you are traveling.
People describe that sometimes there is a piece that immediately makes them think about someone special and then they purchase it. Sometimes what matters is just a certain time, e.g. before Christmas, when you use the opportunity to shop for unique gifts.
Souvenirs as Evidence
The “evidence souvenirs” are a great conversation starter among friends.
They are a “document” giving you the opportunity to talk about your vacation and they are a physical proof that you were there. In many cases the souvenir itself represents a piece of the country you visited, for example something with a picture of the place or a replica / model of a point of interest. Often these purchases are made by people who want to show their experience and who are proud of having visited a place others could not.
Are social media pictures and posts souvenirs?
In our times many people post every part of their traveling experience in social media such as Instagram or Facebook. Often, they capture moments in real time and the followers - family, friends or even strangers - witness the travel and take part in a small part of it.
Among tourism marketing specialists there is a discussion whether these posts are a kind of souvenir. They do capture evidence of the travel and can serve this purpose. But will they ever be the same? Can a picture or a comment take the place of a physical object that can be seen in the real world?
An interesting aspect is, that people who share their travel impressions in social media also buy more souvenirs compared to people who do not share every bit online. Research findings show that frequent social media posters are more apt to use souvenirs as gifts and souvenirs as evidence.
Which type of souvenir purchaser are you?
The above reasons show that souvenirs are something important.
They help to remind special moments and unique experiences. They can be a great gift or an evidence of the travel, in any case something that triggers feelings and nostalgia.
What are your thoughts? Which is your favorite souvenir so far? What memories and feelings does it trigger?
- Souvenirs: What and Why We Buy (Hugh Wilkins) - scientific paper
- The various types of Greek souvenir shops - blog article
- Gifts from Greece.... - blog article