Corporate Gifts: Tool for Marketing & Promotions

Corporate gifts are an important tool in the marketing communication mix. In the corporate world, gift giving can be a double-edge sword. If used properly, they provide the company with a valuable means of strengthening relationships with its key customers and employees, creating goodwill, fostering new relationships and promoting the company’s business. A properly timed and appropriate gift is one of the best ways of conveying the important message that a relationship matters .Although gifts and incentives are generally perceived as a sales promotion tool they should be used as an integral part of the marketing communication mix to synergise and support other promotion activities. Verbal communication is soon forgotten but gifts with your company’s logo on them.


 The type of gifts used is limited only by the imagination.  A gift is given as a corporate gesture in recognition of business conducted or as part of business to business promotion while incentives are products or schemes perceived to be of relatively high value and typically used to reward staff or long standing business customers. Companies that wish to purchase corporate gifts and incentives can choose from a seemingly endless range of items, which can be placed into three broad categories, based on the value of the item and purpose of the gift. The first category are give-aways, generally low value, high volume, less personal items that are used mainly to promote a company’s name. The second are standard gifts which suit most occasions of gift giving and cover a range of prices, but always achieve a higher perceived value that “give-away” and are presented in a more personal manner. The final category contains luxury gifts that are high value, low volume items that address an individual and carry prestige often based on strong brands.


In the past the main focus of business gift giving had been on consumers under the banner of sales promotion. However in the last third years there has been a rapid 2 growth in corporate gift giving which has established a niche within the sector. The corporate gift industry can trace its origin to the United States, arriving in the UK in the 1960s. By the 1980s corporate marketing activity had become established in Britain, and rapidly expanded in the buoyant economic conditions of the early part of the decade as companies were able to financially support more marginal aspects of the promotion mix and experiment with innovative promotional ideas, hence the giving and receiving of business gifts increased. The economic recession in the early 1990s saw a dramatic reduction in corporate gifts giving activities but by the mid 1990s the sector recovered and had created a firmer niche within the marketing sphere, and since then corporate gifts and incentives have continued to gain respect as effective marketing tools (Mintel, 1997). Although corporate gifts and incentives have developed an important role within the marketing mix, they still remain a subsidiary part of the much larger sales promotion industry. As many companies do not have a budget specifically allocated to such promotional activity, the exact size of the corporate gift industry is hard to be quantified with any accuracy. However, trade sources believe that expenditure on corporate gifts and incentives will follow a similar pattern to that of sales promotion industry which grew from 3.0 billion in 1991 to 8.6 billion in 2000: 286 percent increase in nine years or average annual growth of 12.4 percent. It is estimated that the total value of the promotional industry including corporate gifts and incentives reached 10.1 billion in 2001

Things to remember

-Promotional items are a reflection of your company and are an important form of promotion, so don’t settle for poor quality items consumers won’t appreciate, or that don’t fit in with your company’s image

-It’s important to consider the receivers’ personal and cultural preferences i.e alcohol may not make suitable gifts for certain customers so you should have a different option for them. Try to also get unisex gifts wherever possible or otherwise source gender-relevant gifts

-A sales visit is the perfect opportunity to give a small (but useful) gift to increase your company’s visibility and serve as a reminder to potential customers

-Presentation is often more important than the actual gift itself. A beautifully packaged gift with a personal card shows that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the gift

-Always make sure to include your full name and organization details with the gift, especially during busy gift periods like year-end

-Distribution of the gifts is also important. Delivery by the sales person themselves is first choice, followed by a courier or delivery service

-Always purchase a few extra items in case someone has been forgotten or you have last minute gift requirements

-Don’t forget to include any shipping and wrapping costs in your budget

-Be memorable: a great gift is like a great conversation

-Be consistent but current: give a gift that represents your company and the importance of that customer to you, while still being trendy

-Be sustainable: Sustainable gifts show thoughtfulness for the recipient and the planet

-Be subtle with your branding: You want to stay top of mind with the gift you’re giving, not make someone feel like a walking advert. A useful gift with a subtle touch of your logo creates an ongoing friendly reminder of your business throughout the year.

-For luxury gifts to top clients, do not brand the item at all, rather incorporate your logo into the ribbon/packaging of the gift or the card – the customer will remember you for the special gift and is likely to use it more if it doesn’t have your logo all over it

-Be authentic: Give thoughtful gifts and consider delivering your gifts personally to add a personal touch. This helps to create an authentic and lasting impression

-If giving gifts to a selected few, be discreet and try not to give gifts of differing value to people in the same office

-Don’t forget your customer’s assistant – they’re the next person that you will need to build a relationship with so give them a useful token gift

-Try to give something different and avoid the typical kind of gifts, one of the biggest benefits of corporate gifts is word of mouth chatter they can generate

-Beware of fly-by-night promotional companies, who may over promise and not deliver what you paid for – always ask for samples and give yourself extra time on your deadline

-Take time to find a reputable, reliable promotional company for your gifting – this will give you peace of mind, ensure your deadlines are met and often helps to keep costs down

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