Feature Article - July/August 2018

Gifts Galore

Our Annual Guide to Business Gifts

By Deborah L. Vence

George Cassius, president, Earth Gear Corp., Brooklyn, N.Y., said drones are becoming more and more popular, noting their appearance at the National Association of Broadcasters show (NAB) in April.

"We're making up cases for drones," he said.

To boot, Cassius mentioned the popularity of photo bags. "What I'm doing is taking a photograph of who my client is. Our product takes a photograph of whatever they want to show, [the] clear part of the case on front, and promotes their brand, their image," he said.

Also, "One of the things we do is that we work with ALEON and they make aluminum luggage," he said. (ALEON provides durable aluminum luggage and business cases.) "It's the best quality of what you can get," he said.

Other trends in business gifting, Cassius noted, include luggage pieces and smart journal notebooks, as well as tracking devices.

One of the company's vendors is GO PLUG. "What that is if you can imagine a battery charger, portable, a hot item, wireless phone charger," he said. "It acts like a power pack, and has a tracking capability. You can put that in a case and give it as a gift."

Other popular business gifts include wireless headsets and electronic journals. When you open up an electronic journal, "it's got a built-in battery to charge with the charger. If your phone goes dead, plug it into your journal," he said, adding that electronics always are top picks as well as fitness equipment.

"What I use in my business is [packing] cubes … little rectangular cases made out of polyester and a nylon mesh and you would put blouses and shirts in there," Cassius said. "You can put wires and cables in [it], and [they] come in sets of three. Amazon has its own brand of cubes. And most e-commerce sites are selling the cubes today. Put it in the luggage and it's nice and neat."

And, with business gifts, you can imprint company names on the products, too, such as on laptop sleeves, wireless phone chargers, etc.

Classic Gifts

When it comes to the types of gifts that are given, experts noted a few things that are popular right now, including home sound systems and cookware.

"We have done lots with bikes over the years, and that has continued today. As mentioned earlier, cookware and knives now play a major role in what we do," Weaver said. "Last year, we did a huge group of All-Clad roasting pans that were laser etched with the company logo for an end-of-year business gift for a large tech company's customers."

Kooken said when a company approaches Links Unlimited, the first thing that has to be done is to figure out the platform, and then the price point of the gifts.

For example, one of the categories doing a lot right now is headphones.

"There are all different types of headphones," Kooken said. "[It] kind of depends on what you want to get out of your headphones. Jaybird [is] for your typical fitness people; [there's] JLAB and Monster; [and as with] sunglasses, you can have more than one pair," he said.

"You get a chance to pick the wireless. It's all different types of demographics and types of activities. [The] same thing [with] gift-giving around health … the S'well Bottle to work out, backpacks and duffles," he said.

"Every gift we put logos on; Google Home … on backpacks. Employees use that going back and forth to work," he said, adding that luggage is a huge market as well. And then [with] some programs, gift-giving [is] at the very high end … looking at Sonos, iRobot, even Amazon Echo. Those are more high-end gifts that are more name-brand retail facing."

In addition, Cassius said 3-D printers, Alexa, Google, are other typical gifts. "[It's a] huge market," he said.

He also mentioned tracking devices that you can put into luggage. "If I have to check my bag, I want to know where it's going to be, even if my luggage is on the plane. Let's say you want to know where it is at any given time; anybody who is a techie, and carries anything of importance in their luggage, even their briefcase."

What's more, Catrone said "Jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces, sunglasses, handbags, personal care, and kitchen knives with block sets," are some typical gifts. "Name brand merchandise is key to maintaining a high perceived value."

Program Caveats

When establishing business gift programs, experts shared their ideas on what to keep in mind.

"Wide appeal helps, but it's not a must, as many clients like to be unique, but useful," Weaver said. "Timing is always an issue because the bulk of these come in the fourth quarter, and while they needed to be thinking about it in July to have product here in November, many times the call comes in a frenzy in late October. Then, we just start jumping through hoops to get it done!"

The biggest thing about the business gift program is how you are going to collect the orders. "Figure out what you are doing," Kooken said. If you want to make it nice and simple, for example, it's better to give everybody the same thing.

"I'm giving 100 gifts away. You can also offer people different colors …," he said.

Also, pay attention to attributes, and the difference between male and female sizes and different gifting opportunities. You have to pay attention.

"We build redemption websites for gifting programs," Kooken noted. "With our programs, we'll give them redemption codes. People can go into the website; [they are] throwaway websites. Pick gifts and allow a choice. It also allows [you] to pick where you want it to be shipped; the same with headphones; all different colors, through a redemption website.

"You create an experience that matches what they want. We go to a corporation, [and] figure out what they are trying to accomplish; a choice, a shopping spree. I can have headphones from Beat and B&O, fitting what people want, put gift choices up there," he said.

If there are 100 gifts to choose from, recipients can be given the redemption code. And, an e-mail can be sent out saying, "Thanks for your loyalty." "Whatever that message is …and [you can] use that redemption code to redeem your gift," he said.

And, "certainly," Catrone said, "the gift must be memorable with a high perceived value. Major brands like Pandora, Ray-Ban, Kenneth Cole and Costa Del Mar are very popular. The best gifts are those that the recipient uses or wears daily and are desirable—this helps to motivate both them and their co-workers. These gifts sell and are renewed each and every year."