by Leo Jakobson | August 22, 2017

Every year, we ask the respondents to Incentive's Corporate Gift IQ Survey to dig into their own history for the best and worst corporate gifts they have personally received. In many cases, the responses are indicative of trends that corporate gift givers should be aware of, the most obvious being that both brand name and quality matter, and personalizing the gift is a good idea. 

Pens, for example, showed up 45 times in the "worst gifts" category, often preceded by the word "cheap" or a synonym; but put the words "Montblanc" or "Cross," (or "gold") in front and they show up five times in the "best gifts" category. The brand-name awards cited most often include Maui Jim sunglasses (15 times) Tumi (five), Tiffany (five), and Bose (four).

Other quality complaints include "bad wine," "a cheap trophy," and the particularly egregious "portable emergency charger that didn't work." And gifts sourced from Dollar Tree continued a long-running streak of showing up at least once in the "worst gifts" category.

Gift cards are one way to get around these issues, and remain the most frequently used corporate gift, included in nearly 60 percent of respondents' programs. They are also the most-cited best gift, with 65 respondents citing a gift card ranging in value from $10 to $5,000.

While extremely expensive gifts are another way to ensure the gift is loved - who wouldn't appreciate the new Mercedes or weekend in Paris cited in this survey - they aren't necessary if you make sure you know the recipient and choose a gift appropriately. Among the best gifts received are a pair of boxing gloves, a "set of glassware with my initials on them," and "a bobblehead of my image." 

The flipside applies. Women cited receiving men's apparel several times, another did not like a pink tool set, and a male respondent pointed to "a T-shirt with an inappropriate message." A gift that the recipient was allergic to was problematic. And the problem with "a glass bowl with the logo of a hotel on it" from someone who "was obviously re-gifting it," is self-evident. 

Finally, logoed awards require extra care, as putting your company name on an item connects it to your brand. Thus, "a watch with their logo that did not work," is a double negative.

 

FULL SURVEY RESULTS

 
1) Are corporate/business gifts part of your incentive programs?
Yes -- 77.4%
No -- 22.6%


2) Please classify your organization's industry.
Professional -- 14.7%
Service -- 13.4%
Manufacturing -- 9.5%
Finance/Insurance/Real Estate -- 9.1%
Retail -- 9.1%
Technology/Telecom -- 6.9%
Distribution -- 3.9%
Transportation -- 2.8%
Other -- 30.8%


3) Who are your corporate gift recipients? 
Customers/clients -- 66.4%
Employees -- 59.7%
Suppliers/partners -- 18.9%
Prospects -- 5.1%
Stockholders -- 4.9%
Other -- 2.2%


4) On average, how much do you spend on corporate gifts per recipient?
Less than $25 -- 27.6%
$25 to $49 -- 20.7%
$50 to $74 -- 11.2%
$75 to $99 -- 9.3%
$100 to $199 -- 19.6%
$200 to $299 -- 4.3%
$300 to $399 -- .7%
$400 to $499 -- 0.9%
$500 to $999 -- 1.7%
$1,000 and up -- 3.0%


5) How have your corporate gift programs changed over the past two years?
Spending MORE on gifts -- 25.9%
Spending LESS on gifts -- 16.4%
Spending the SAME on gifts -- 36.5%
Sending to MORE recipients -- 14.0%
Sending to FEWER recipients -- 9.7%
Sending to the SAME recipients -- 8.4%
Giving gifts on MORE occasions -- 12.1%
Giving gifts on FEWER occasions -- 6.0%
Giving gifts on the SAME occasions -- 9.5%
Not sending corporate gifts at all -- 9.7%


6) On which of the following occasions do you give corporate gifts?
Promotional events -- 48.1%
Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year's -- 47.4%
Thank you -- 45.5%
Recognition -- 44.8%
Birthday -- 20.6%
Anniversary -- 20.6%
Close of a deal -- 16.4%
Retirement -- 16.4%
Admin assistant day -- 11.4%
Thanksgiving -- 10.7%
Wedding/birth -- 9.0%
Apology -- 5.2%
Other -- 14.7%


7) How do you purchase your corporate gifts
Direct from manufacturer/supplier -- 54.1%
Online -- 5.4%
Retail -- 38.0%
Reseller/distributor -- 36.5%
Gift service company -- 25.0%
Other -- 7.0%


8) During which months do you usually order corporate gifts? (Select up to 3 months)
January -- 11.2%
February -- 6.0%
March -- 8.8%
April -- 10.0%
May -- 9.1%
June -- 11.5%
July -- 8.4%
August -- 6.2%
September -- 10.5%
October -- 14.8%
November -- 17.7%
December -- 21.5%
As necessary -- 48.7%


9) Over the past 12 months, when sending out corporate gifts, have you noticed any change in the number of organizations that have restricted/prohibited the corporate gifts their employees can accept?
More are restricting/prohibiting -- 26.2%
Fewer are restricting/prohibiting -- 2.8%
No change in number restricting/prohibiting -- 42.5%
Have not encountered any restrictions/prohibitions -- 28.5%


10) Which of the following corporate gifts do you give?
Gift cards -- 59.6%
Desktop/office accessories -- 44.4%
Apparel -- 41.8%
Electronics -- 36.8%
Food -- 34.9%
Wine and spirits -- 27.6%
Writing instruments -- 25.2%
Books, music, movies -- 21.4%
Leather goods -- 16.2%
Watches -- 5.4%
Clocks -- 15.2%
Crystal -- 15.2%
Sporting goods -- 14.3%
Luggage -- 14.0%
Tabletop items -- 13.8%
Outdoor/leisure equipment -- 12.1%
Cameras -- 10.0%
Tools -- 9.5%
Jewelry -- 8.8%
Toys/games -- 8.3%
Cookware -- 5.9%
Other -- 13.5%


11) Which of the following types of gift cards do you give as corporate gifts? 
Dining/restaurant -- 48.7%
Retail -- 37.9%
Debit cards -- 28.5%
Entertainment -- 24.5%
Multiple-merchant -- 13.2%
Gas -- 12.9%
Travel -- 10.8%
Experiential -- 3.6%
Do not give gift cards -- 26.1%