by Leo Jakobson | September 28, 2011
More than last year, respondents to Incentive’s 2011 Corporate Gift IQ survey said they used corporate gifts. But they are spending less overall on gifts and giving gifts to fewer recipients and on fewer occasions. So it’s not surprising that the number of awards in the four highest-denomination categories (above $300 per recipient) nearly doubled from 4.2 percent to 7.9 percent.

Also, corporations seem to be giving a smaller selection of awards, as every single type of award—gift cards, electronics, jewelry, etc—was used by a smaller number of companies than in 2010. 

The 501 respondents who answered Incentive’s survey also filled out a pair of personal questions: “What was the best corporate gift you have ever received?” and “What was the worst corporate gift you have ever received?” “Gift cards” was the most common response to the “best” question, with 53 responses ranging from a $25 Safeway card to a $1,000 Visa card. A few specific brands came up frequently, notably Apple for its iPads and iPods (13 votes), Maui Jim for sunglasses (9 votes), and Bose for electronics (5 votes). 

In many cases, best and worst gifts were dependent on the amount of thought (or thoughtlessness) that went into the selection. Thus, your lactose-intolerant recipients did not appreciate cheese plates. Cases of wine, with each bottle being selected by hand based on the recipient’s tastes, were big hits, though.

Respondents’ answers are always fascinating to peruse—especially the worst gift list. This year, Incentive’s editors added their own answers to both the best and worst categories. They are:

Best (in no particular order):
1. Use of a NetJets (private executive jet) service
2. Trip to Naples, Italy
3. Fifth-row San Antonio Spurs playoff game tickets
4. A rifle
5. A $250 gift card to a specialty clothing store: “I knew the boss went specifically to this place because she knew I liked it.”
 
Worst (in very particular order):
1. “A donation to a politician’s campaign in my name—one that I did not support.”
2.  Dollar Tree homemade paperweight
3. Honey baked ham gift certificate: “I’m Jewish.”
4. “A cheesy candy bar, it was even bad chocolate. And I gave this client a million-piece order, the largest they ever had!”
5. A paper airplane 
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