Feature Article - July/August 2014

Give a Little, Get a Lot

Experts Discuss Trends, Strategies of Business Gifting

By Deborah L. Vence

Corporate gift-giving still is going strong, with companies choosing conventional items and spending more on business gifts today.

In fact, a survey at the end of last year by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a media and marketing organization that serves the advertising specialty industry, revealed that companies had planned to spend an average of $44.98 for employees and $33.92 for clients and prospects for the holiday season, compared with $41.70 and $26.48, respectively, given in 2012.

And, though buyers were not expecting to give out as many items, they indicated that they were spending more on the items that they were going to give out. Most of the surveyed companies indicated that they give gifts as a way of expressing appreciation (67.7 percent), developing relationships (59.3 percent) and generating goodwill toward their company (56.6 percent).

What's On Trend

Everyday products, such as coffeemakers, water kettles and more, are some of the most wanted gifts by companies that want to show appreciation and gratitude toward employees and customers.

Gifts that are considered "'special' are sometimes gifts that stay in the closet and are forgotten, because they're not used very often," said Becky Sawicki, senior sales and marketing manager for JURA Inc., a company that markets automatic coffee centers.

Corporate gift-giving still is going strong, with companies choosing conventional items and spending more on business gifts today.

But, "Products that can be used every day, such as automatic coffee centers, coffeemakers, grinders, water kettles and iced tea makers, are always appreciated, and if people don't need them at home, they'll take them into the office and use them there," she said.

While trends vary with the time of year and purpose, "food is always a trend, so we strive to bring the best in gourmet and offer new twists to stay ahead of the gourmet curve," noted Matt Burdette, B2B sales and marketing manager for Omaha Steaks B2B Special Markets.

Likewise, "Electronics or electronic accessories are a very popular trend with business gifting, as it satisfies every demographic," said Paul Gordon, vice president of sales, Rymax Marketing Services, a full-service loyalty marketing provider. "Accessories for these items—chargers from Mophie, cases from Michael Kors and covers from Johnston & Murphy—make a big impact, help people do their jobs more efficiently and are easy on the gift giver's budget," he said. "And, because they're always with a recipient, so is your brand and thank-you sentiment, which makes them think of you every time they use them."

And, in recent times, apparel items such as "down vests, beach towels, luxury robes and leather goods" have been used, noted Dennis O. Borst, president and COO, Patriot Marketing Group, Los Angeles, a full-service promotion, incentives and corporate branding company.

"Additionally, we have done health and wellness products, like UP from Jawbones, Beats Headphones from Dr. Dre and Bluetooth Speakers from Jawbones called Mini Jambox. Right now these small, yet high-quality electronic items are very hot with our customers," he said.