Feature Article - July/August 2015

The Power of a Gift

A Guide to Savvy Business Gifting

By Rick Dandes


Corporate gift-giving for special occasions and major holidays can be a very important aspect of an overall marketing strategy—one that can help expand a brand. But in every case when gifting, you need to walk a fine line, making absolutely sure that the gifts are not perceived as an "inappropriate means to influence business," or even worse, as bribes, said Ira Ozer, CEO, Engagement Partners, of Chappaqua, N.Y., and several other experts in gifting programs.

Recently, "business gifting" has gotten a somewhat negative connotation in some circles, noted Paul Gordon, senior vice president of sales, Rymax Marketing Services Inc., Pine Brook, N.J. And indeed, there have been instances where it was badly misused. But the core of "business gifting" is still important in creating business relationships. Experiential gifts are still trending as very popular. "I strongly believe that an effective loyalty program, with quality products that recognize the individual and their interests, is paramount to a mutually beneficial relationship," Gordon said.

"Rymax Marketing Services recently provided key clients with e-readers that had a list of all our current brands, comprehensive details on upcoming promotions, information on our R-SITE [Rymax's Strategic Interactive Themed Events] platform and the latest press releases. This 'business gift' enabled our key clients to have all of our information at the touch of a button, keeping our communication open and effective and presented in a manner that was both engaging and memorable."

Many business gift recipients appreciate the opportunity to participate in a favorite or unique activity or service that they'd deem a special treat, added Michelle Smith, vice president, marketing, O.C. Tanner, of Salt Lake City, Utah. Experiential and philanthropic gifts are still trending as very popular For example, charitable donations made in a recipient's name are very popular—especially if the recipient has an affinity for that particular charity.

What's Trending?

The popularity of items is dictated by the current economy. When consumer confidence is high, luxury items from renowned brands are in high demand. When consumer confidence is low however, item requests become more practical and "lifestyle" oriented.

The four most popular categories, Ozer said, are useful items, consumables, special events and thematic memorabilia. Useful items such as nice pens, portfolios and small electronics like wireless speakers are used frequently and provide a reminder of the giver and the relationship. Consumables like foods, flowers and dinners are short-lived, but appreciated and often shared with the recipient's co-workers and family, and are most likely to be perceived as acceptable. Thematic memorabilia such as baseball hats, CDs and other reminders of an event are also considered as thoughtful and personal, and have a long-lasting appeal.

When consumer confidence is high, luxury items from renowned brands are in high demand. When consumer confidence is low however, item requests become more practical and "lifestyle" oriented.

Meanwhile, Gordon suggested that hot new business gift categories include anything having to do with fitness wearables. "Those are trending items that are growing in popularity and demand," he said, "especially within wellness programs. Healthy employees reduce the costs of their company's insurance, decrease the amount of sick days and increase company morale. So, what better way to encourage activity in a wellness program than to receive an item like the new Apple iWatch?"