Cultivate Blog

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

Posted by Tara Doherty on 10/25/22 8:00 AM

Even though the memory of a great gift exchange between clients and colleagues can be alluring, it isn’t everything. Research and reality are here to remind us that a thoughtful gift should last beyond the moment of surprise and become more useful and valuable for years to come. Yet, many gift-givers tend to get caught up in the theatrics of a reveal.

To better explain, we’re sharing stats and science-backed research to shift focus and look beyond the big reveal to the reason why you’re appreciating someone in the first place.


Shifting gears

The most memorable gifts turn out to be the ones people use. In a 2016 study, researchers found that gift-givers focus on the moment of the reveal, while recipients actually prefer a gift that is useful and versatile. “Givers are thinking about the moment that the recipient opens the present and looks at it—how big a smile are they going to have on their face.” The study pointed out that “recipients don’t care about that. That’s a one-second moment in their experience, whereas their use of the gift has a much greater influence.” According to our experts, a gift people are genuinely excited to have, and use can leave a lasting impression years after tearing off the wrapping paper. Alas, where’s the disconnect?

According to a research article by the Association for Psychological Science, co-authors Jeff Galak and Elanor Williams studied many existing frameworks from similar research on this subject to find common ground between the moment of exchange versus utility. The researchers uncovered some of the most common gift-giving errs included:

  1. Giving unrequested gifts in an effort to surprise the recipient. Examples included gifting a bottle of Scotch when you don’t know if the recipient drinks alcohol and a trendy gadget they don’t know how to use.
  2. Focusing on gifts that are most likely to be immediately well-received such as leaving chocolate on a hotel pillow. When it’s not instantly enjoyed, it’s easily forgotten about.
  3. Giving socially responsible gifts, such as donations to a charity in a person’s name, seems special at the moment of gift exchange but provides almost no value to recipients down the road.

From these findings, the researchers made a recommendation for how to give better gifts: “Take a moment to stop and think about the why behind the action of giving this person a gift. While it may be easy to get caught up in the trends of today, gift-givers are able to shift their focus from “what’s hot” to what someone will actually use and enjoy.” In our expert opinion, this type of appreciation will always deliver a memorable experience.

Gift people what they want

If focalism underlies these types of errors, then perhaps advising givers to put themselves in their recipient’s shoes will help them consider how gifts might provide value to the recipient once the wrapping paper comes off. 

And the best way to find out what people want to receive? Let them choose! By letting a recipient select a gift of their choice, it relieves the hesitation and pressure most gift-givers tend to feel before the moment of exchange. It also eliminates the guesswork and helps to ensure people will use and enjoy their gift for longer and remember who gave it to them later.

Gift-giving shouldn’t be about the moment of shock and awe. It should be about the usability of the gift and the value it brings into the recipient’s life. Less shock, more awe. Choice is a ‘wow’ factor that will never fail. Connect with our team of Gifting Experts to learn more about our variety of solutions and premium products—we can’t wait to tell you more!

Topics: Experts

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