It’s funny how human beings have always been fascinated by little things wrapped up as gifts. It’s enigmatic to see that from early childhood to the second childhood that is old age, gifts always put a smile on people’s faces. Corporate gifting has evolved around the very concept—the feeling of appreciation in the working adult’s mind with something tangible.
The concept of corporate gifting has come a long way from what it was, to begin with. From gift baskets full of chocolates to a gift voucher, this industry has gone through a tectonic shift. But it’s still not caught up with the multi-billion-dollar industry size that’s gleaming like a neatly wrapped present full of potential.
In India, the corporate gifting industry is scaling to new heights as ResearchNXT brought a few key points from its research:
- >60% of organizations have a designated budget for corporate gifting
- Pharmacy is the leading consumer of the corporate gifting mechanism
- Brand awareness, customer loyalty, and employee engagement the biggest reasons to invest in it
All this makes a Manager/CXO think about how evolved their corporate gifting mechanism is. Is it way ahead of its time or way behind it? Are we still giving out bags of flavored nuts and popcorn? Let’s understand the evolution of corporate gifting. But first, not all corporate gifts work in every dynamic, for every culture has a different meaning to it.
Corporate Gifts Truly Depict the Culture
Not every country/culture considers corporate gifting a lucrative option. Although the modern definition of corporate gifting has removed the cultural bias, it’s crucial to understand that corporate gifts might not be generic after all. For instance, we are going to look at some cultures that embrace their true essence in gifts that they give or take.
- In the USA, a business gift is considered to be a benevolent gesture, however it’s not obligatory. Often sent during the holidays or after the business deals are closed down, corporate gifting in the US really strengthens the bonds of trust.
- The British have their own share of opinion on corporate gifting. 95% of UK-based businesses believe that corporate gifting is an indispensable part of their business strategy (Cartwright and Butler). There’s a firm belief in the UK that nothing strengthens the bond of trust like corporate gifts.
- The Australian culture appreciates modesty in business dealings and overselling surely doesn’t tickle their taste buds. It’s a wrongful perception, but in many cases corporate gifting is deemed to be a technique to lure the receiver into something, and this won’t get you lots of friendly remarks in Australia. Gifts as pure tokens of appreciation, however, are always welcome.
- In Europe, corporate gifts are surely welcome, but they aren’t supposed to be overdone. Expensive gifts are often accepted with snarky looks and haywire thoughts, hence it’s best to keep it strictly professional and not-too-shimmery.
- Coming to other parts of Asia, you might’ve heard the anecdote where the British Transport Minister presented the Mayor of Taipei an expensive watch. That sounds like a grand gift, right? Well, in Mandarin, the phrase ‘giving a clock’ sounds like ‘paying one’s last respects’, hence it was taken as a sign of disrespect. It’s best to stick to very generic gifts and probably a Google Search about what they mean in the Asian culture before handing them out.
- In India, gift-giving from a business context wasn’t really a big deal until the new era of millennials and Gen-Zers came into the corporate picture. Business dealings were,are, and will be all about the bonds of trust and appreciation and the new generation is doing well to club these values to corporate gifting and they seem to get along well.
Cultural differences might make your gifting antics powerless if done wrong. It’s best to use the ‘net before handing them out—especially in case of physical corporate gifts.
The Evolution of Corporate Gifting
As it was mentioned before, corporate gifting has evolved throughout the years. While it sounds like an unnoticeable change, evolution is what has made it a huge industry for keeping partners happy, employees engaged, and the stakeholders satisfied. Let’s look at how corporate gifting has thrived through times and how it shall look like in the future.
Corporate Gifting in the Last Century
While exchanging tokens of appreciation prior to business dealings has been a thing since colonialism came into shape, the latter half of 20th Century glorified corporate gifting into what it is today. Hallmark greeting cards on Christmas, Eid, Diwali, and Hanukkah came into normalcy for business associates, and they were accompanied by gift bags, chocolate boxes and sometimes, Cuban cigars.
However, as employees came into the gifting dynamic, tokens of appreciation in the form of signature pens, desk clocks, and trophies started popping up to boost their morale. This was the starting point of employee rewards as we know it today.
Corporate Gifting Today
It would be unjust to say that the essence of corporate gifting was lost in transition, but it surely revived into what it is right now. As we have stepped into the digitized era wherein everyone is online and connected with one another, new avenues forayed into the corporate gifting mechanism. With e-commerce in full swing throughout the globe, gift vouchers have emerged to be the number one choice.
The Indian corporate gifting market is estimated to grow at a whopping rate of 200% (Technopak)
Gift vouchers can be flexibly used according to one’s whims and fancies, and they have the price tag in the form of the monetary value assigned to it—a perfect corporate gift concoction. However, gift vouchers are merely the beginning of modern-day corporate gifting. We are slowly stepping into the future of corporate gifting—the Points-based Rewarding System.
The Future of Corporate Gifting
Organized reward and recognition platforms have been doing rounds throughout the corporate ambiance and it’s safe to say that they have found their way into corporate gifting with points-based reward system. This mechanism is highly effective and automated for rewarding employees, peers, partners, and other stakeholders (including the end customer) with points-based currency that can be cashed in on a vast catalogue of options.
In a points-based rewarding system, the organization has a platform wherein the management allots points instead of money into the concerned stakeholders’ profiles as a token of a gift, gratitude, exemplary performance, or simply a reward. These points can be redeemed to purchase products and services from the given platform.
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A few advantages of the points-based rewarding system are that it’s highly flexible and versatile, for even the choosiest of recipients would have something of his/her fancies. There’s an element of freedom as they can get what they want, wherever they want it from. The points-based rewarding system can be used throughout the globe as a catalogue such as Xoxoday’s can be used anywhere.
With swiftness is rewards, instant recognition, and easy allotment to the recipients, it’s safe to say that points-based rewarding system is the future. Also, it overcomes each and every cultural barrier that we talked about before— making it a win-win throughout the globe.
Let’s look at the corporate gift trends of today.
These Corporate Gifts are #TrendingNow
1. Gift Vouchers
Gift vouchers are on the rise as both a personal gift as well as a professional one. The liquidity and flexibility that comes along with it are rather liberating for the recipient to spend wisely. Modern-day gift vouchers range from e-commerce to food coupons, electronics, eLearning, home décor, and whatnot.
Perquisites form a substantial part of an employee’s benefits package. These non-wage compensatory schemes are easier to run when there’s a points-based rewarding system in place as your troops can choose whatever they want from the catalogue at bay.
What would you reminisce more—a silver gift pen from a colleague 20 years back or a three-day trip to your favorite holiday destination? Experiences are the better gift option—even in corporate gifting—by a mile. From tours and getaways to solo trips, heritage tours to adventure rides, and everything around it, the points-based rewarding system gives the recipient a chance to take their pick on what kind of experience they yearn for. Could there be a better gift?
4. Health and Wellness
With a rise in health awareness in the youth, health and wellness are a budding category. A points-based reward system takes care of it along with other options to give the recipients a taste of what they can get in the health and wellness section.
5. Gift Boxes
Some things never go out of fashion, do they? Gift boxes are one such commodity that is still considered to be a timeless classic in the world of corporate gifting.
Merchandise has evolved from a gifting mechanism to a promotional accessory. Those cool hoodies, water bottles, laptop sleeves, pens, hats, and whatnot are still leading the way in the form of gift bags and welcome kits.
Corporate Gifts and Special Occasions—an Eternal Bond
There’s a simple reason why corporate gifts would never go out of style—they have an inseparable bond with special occasions and moments.
Be it the festival of Diwali, Eid, or Christmas, a new partner getting onboard, someone getting a job promotion, an employee being rewarded for their long service and commitment, or simply a thank-you gift to customers, corporate gifts make it feel like a special day.
The evolution of corporate gifting has got us to where it is through a lot of changes, but the real purpose of the gift remains the same—to make the recipient feel valued and to show that the giver cares and recognizes their work. This was the corporate gifting scenario of today and tomorrow. Happy gifting!