Three ways corporate gifting is changing for the better

by | Jan 18, 2022 | Inspiration

Over the last decade, corporate gifting has rapidly evolved beyond holiday hams and branded apparel. As industry thought-leaders, we’re helping and empowering companies to leverage Virtual and Event Gifting as a way to effectively appreciate people, nurture professional relationships, and create memorable connections.

A recent industry survey reveals three ways corporate gifting is changing:

  • The frequency of corporate gifting is increasing, with 58% of respondents reporting they gift more now than they did before working remote.
  • Corporate gifting has the power to foster and improve professional relationships. 43% of survey respondents ranked “improving relationships with customers and employees” as an advantage, surpassing lead generation and higher sales.
  • Gift cards emerged as the most purchased corporate gifts in the last 12 months, despite the growing number of people who don’t value them as thoughtful gifting options.

As the landscape of corporate gifting changes, we believe the way companies think about and value appreciation should change, too. In this blog feature, our team of experts further explains how corporate gifting is evolving and how the way you plan and deliver gift programs may ultimately impact more than your bottom line.

Trend 1: The frequency of corporate gifting is on the rise

The frequency of corporate gifting is increasing, with 58% of respondents reporting they gift more now than they did before working remote.

In pre-pandemic times, corporate gifting was another routine expense of doing business, but it has since taken on new urgency. With people and teams dispersed, gifting has become a way to keep employees connected and rewarded for work performance. Likewise, with client relationships kept at a distance, gifting has helped bridge the gap.

According to the survey, 70% of respondents expect the frequency of corporate gifting to increase. The long-term impact on corporate gifting will be less driven by holidays and more influenced by company culture, nurturing relationships, and bottom lines. The pandemic is shifting the way program organizers and planners think about corporate gifting from a one-and-done task to an organizational priority. It’s helping our team drive home the most meaningful impact of gifting: making people feel valued and appreciated.

In 2021, the number one occasion for corporate gifting was to facilitate appreciation to an employee, client, vendor, and or business partner. At Cultivate, we know gifting with choice carries an element of care that enhances the ways people build and sustain emotional connections.

Trend 2: Gifting creates connections and fosters long-lasting relationships

Corporate gifting has the power to foster and improve professional relationships. 43% of survey respondents ranked “improving relationships with customers and employees” as an advantage, surpassing lead generation and higher sales.

Corporate gifting is vital to strengthen relationships and make people feel respected. While companies can reap the monetary benefits of corporate gifting, such as increased conversions and higher sales revenue, these are often overshadowed by the emotional and sentimental benefits. According to the survey:

  • 80% of respondents said their relationships with customers, employees, and colleagues improved with the onset of corporate gifting.
  • 45% of respondents said corporate gifting made them feel appreciated and valued by their organization.
  • 50% of respondents said corporate gifting encouraged them to be more productive.

In addition to the emotional benefits, it’s important to think about the other benefits of corporate gifting—like quality products that serve as tangible touchpoints—that will also impact the success of your program.

Trend 3: Gift cards don’t effectively convey appreciation

Gift cards emerged as the most purchased corporate gifts in the last 12 months, despite the growing number of people who don’t value them as thoughtful gifting options.

When it comes to giving someone the “gift of choice,” many companies have coined the phrase in hopes of selling more gift cards. But are gift cards deserving of such a liberating title? No, not really—at least according to a survey by Consumer Reports. Among other things, this survey found that when people are given a choice between receiving a tangible gift from a collection of items versus receiving a gift card, more people opt for the tangible item. Although retailers try to persuade consumers that these shiny bits of plastic will excite people, researchers agree that gift cards don’t effectively convey appreciation for three main reasons: they’re time-consuming and inconvenient to redeem, easy to forget, and impersonal.

  • 58% of those surveyed by Consumer Reports said they didn’t have time to go shopping, so they never used or forgot about their gift card.
  • According to another study by the National Retail Federation, unused or forgotten gift cards have totaled over $44 Billion since 2008.
  • 45% of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they didn’t use the gift card their company gifted them because it appeared devoid of thought and transactional in nature. 

If there’s one key takeaway for corporate gifting programs to achieve success, it’s this: Inviting people to select a gift of their choice recognizes the individual and makes them feel appreciated, no matter the occasion. Unlike one-gift-fits-all and gift cards, gifting with choice feels rewarding for several reasons. It creates memorable moments that generate shareable stories, strengthens and nurtures relationships that are built on mutual gratitude and respect, and ensures everyone receives a gift they want and will use.

Since the midcentury, corporate gifting has been viewed as a means to an end, a box that organizations need to check around the holiday season. In 2022, our team of Gifting Experts is here to change the way companies think about and value appreciation. Instead of focusing on the monetary benefits, we’re taking a human-centric approach to corporate gifting, and shifting our focus to how corporate gifting can help you create connections, appreciate and recognize people, boost productivity, and reward brand loyalty.

Corporate gifting is on the rise, and industry analysts expect it to continue growing by at least six to eight percent year over year. Embracing these new trends will give companies an advantage and put them on the right track towards fulfilling organizational goals. Because, ultimately, the emotional and sentimental benefits of corporate gifting end up impacting the bottom line.

To learn more about corporate gifting with Cultivate, connect with our team of Gifting Experts.

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