Cultivate Blog

Part One: Debunking the do's and don'ts of corporate gifting

Posted by Tara Doherty on 10/11/22 8:00 AM

For over a decade, we’ve led the industry in thoughtful and meaningful corporate gifting strategies, establishing ourselves as the Gifting Experts. We’ve solicited for and listened to feedback from clients and recipients to help us hone in on the factors that matter most. From our seamless approach to planning and solving our clients’ biggest pain points to offering people gifts they want that actually feel rewarding. We’ve scrutinized every detail and asked all of the what-if questions to help us ensure that we always deliver for our clients and their guests.

With that, we’re bringing a new series to our blog that dives deeper into the reasons why gifting with Cultivate far surpasses other incentive approaches like branded merchandise, cash, and gift cards. Through cited research and objective studies, we’re highlighting the reasons why these types of gifts don’t effectively recognize recipients and sharing alternatives that are proven to deliver a Return on Appreciation.™ 

Without further ado, let’s dive into part one: branded merchandise.


Debunking branded merchandise

When it comes to rewarding and recognizing—who wants to feel like just another face in the crowd? Basic perks like pens, branded sweaters, and coffee mugs are lackluster when it comes to effectively appreciating recipients. According to a recent survey, only 9% of recipients report that branded gifts make them feel special or valued. In addition, when you make a gift about you and your business, it’s no longer about the receiver. Branded gifts are essentially walking advertisements for your business. By giving a branded gift, instead of conveying appreciation, you are essentially saying, “show off my business to all of the people you interact with.” The goal of gifting should be to make the person on the receiving end feel valued and appreciated as an individual, not like a cog in your wheel.

What people are really looking for is the kind of recognition that will offer a deeper sense of satisfaction, purpose, and fulfillment. According to a survey by Ladders, 77% of professionals said they’d rather choose their gift than have their boss pick one out for them. That’s because 81% of respondents said they’ve been disappointed in the past by holiday gifts, hoping it would be something different. Furthermore, a whopping 8 in 10 U.S. employees have received a workplace gift—mostly from managers—that they did *not* want. Results from the same survey showed the worst corporate gifts employees ever received were gift cards for stores they’ve never been to, company-branded gear, and fridge magnets. Thus, the only way companies can meet this need for esteem is by setting up a meaningful system of recognition.

The dos and the don’ts

As the Gifting Experts, we want you to feel confident in your gift-giving abilities. To help you do so we’ve outlined the biggest do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Do: Recognize and empower people with a gift they get to choose.

Don’t: Branded merchandise doesn’t incentivize a workforce because the reward worth earning is all the same. Generic, company-branded merchandise could translate to your employees, clients, or partners that you don’t know them very well or care about what they like—inevitably doing more harm than good.

Do: Premium quality brands and products are sought after because they are long-lasting and can be frequently used. Plus, best-in-class gifts tend to help recipients remember who gave it to them for longer.

Don’t: Branded merchandise doesn’t last. Screen-printed graphics and press-on acrylics can’t stand up to the wear, tear, and natural deterioration of long-term use.

Expert tip: After a year or two, a company sweatshirt isn’t going to look as fresh as it did after you’ve worn and washed it twenty-five times—the same can be said for a nice pen that runs out of ink. The corporate gifts you give should be an item they can and will frequently enjoy using.

Do: Help them discover new products they’ll love while still giving them the best-in-class brands they want with Curated Collections. Unlike branded merchandise, our variety of premium quality brands and products ensures they’ll find an on-trend gift they prefer for work, for home, or for play.

Don’t: More often than not, branded merchandise is updated too infrequently— ending up as stale, out-of-date, unwanted rewards that recipients can’t and don’t use.

Expert tip: From a company perspective, excess inventory that you can’t utilize is frustrating and will eventually become a storage burden. And branded merchandise nobody wants is a waste of money.

Do: Deliver a thoughtful gift program that will spark meaningful connections and shareable stories to build buzz and excitement around your recognition efforts.

Don’t: Branded merchandise lacks the bandwidth needed to excite, motivate, or incentivize employees, and it’s hard to promote.

Expert tip: A new espresso machine, the latest tech gadgets, or a diamond necklace creates a visual interest that engages recipients’ brains—they see the reward, they want the reward, and they consider how they can improve their performance to earn it. This helps create a buzz factor when employees talk about the reward options.

Branded merchandise belongs to brand ambassadors, arcade games, and job fair tables. It doesn’t serve as a tangible point of connection that fosters meaningful relationships. Nobody wants an item they won’t use, something they’ve seen a thousand times before, or outdated company-branded tee shirts for a job well done. Your gifting program should deliver your intent now and in the long run.

Online and On-site Gifting are the simplest ways to ensure every person feels individually recognized for their contributions and rewarded with a gift that will last and continue to bring them joy. When gift programs are designed around what really matters to the people they’re appreciating, both are destined to succeed.

Connect with our Gifting Experts to learn more about effective incentive and gifting programs.

Topics: Experts

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