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Handle with care: a guide to corporate gifting when the party’s been cancelled

Monday insight


Present and correct: Picking the right gift can help businesses build lasting relationships

Present and correct: Picking the right gift can help businesses build lasting relationships

Present and correct: Picking the right gift can help businesses build lasting relationships

Business has changed. Between the pandemic, climate change and the movements for social justice, no brand can move forward as if the status quo is stable. Even the most traditional companies have had to recognise that customers are emotional beings seeking meaningful connections.

Transactional gestures don’t cut it anymore. In our new reality, brands that care and show their human side will reach people. Loyalty matters, but it’s not easily won. In fact, in a world of endless options, it’s harder than ever.

That’s where human connections count. Brand loyalty is not about points and tiers of service. Lasting relationships are not built on mindless freebies. People want to know they matter. The simple act of sending a gift with thought behind it has a significant impact for thousands of customers. It represents a human gesture, a real connection.

It reaches people with a powerful message: I matter. They see me. This company cares.

So, if you’re facing a partyless Christmas, who are the people you’ll want to connect with before the new year?


Customers and clients

Obvious, but important nonetheless. Can you reward your customer loyalty programme with a gift? How about clients who signed a contract this year? Or, better yet, ones who have been with you for 10+ years? Lapsed customers or clients might also benefit.


Brand partners

Last year, we helped a company ship a campaign that sent customised gifts to their advertising partners. A unique type of gift recipient, but an effective way of keeping those partners around for years to come. Whether it’s photographers, suppliers, agencies, consultants or influencers, consider including them in your holiday gift planning.

Sales leads

Looking to nurture sales relationships? A kind gesture could be the key differentiator to starting new partnerships versus leaving them in limbo. Not only does it provide a helpful nudge but it shows transactions don’t have to be purely transactional. They can also be human-centric.



Don’t forget about the ones that got the company where it is today. Reward staff with a lovely surprise, promoting healthy retention rates and overall employee happiness. Be generous, and start from a place of empathy.

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Talk about an act that goes the distance. Thanking your VC firms, advisors and mentors is a great practice to get into. A returned favour shows you’re investing the relationship.


Three rules to gift by

Holiday gifting, when done right, doesn’t stop with the gift. It goes on to foster long-term loyalty. It’s a symbol of care that makes people remember not necessarily what they got, but how valued you made them feel.

But making that impact doesn’t happen without considering some key factors.


Align with the recipient’s values

It’s important to determine what gift holds attributes that the gift recipient values. Is it made with recycled materials — and is it fully recyclable itself? Does it amplify the work of a minority-owned business? Will part of its proceeds support a charitable cause?

Post-pandemic, 25pc more consumers plan to pay closer attention to the social and environmental impact that results from their shopping. This should result in an effort to give gift manufacturing, makers and materials the consideration they deserve.

Built for memorable longevity

Cheap merchandise just doesn’t cut it when it comes to making someone feel special. Find objects that stand the test of time. The cost may be higher, but it will mean more in the hands of its new owner.


Useful yet unexpected

At the end of 2020, nearly 40pc of US consumers purchased gift cards from their favourite retailers and restaurants to support them during the darker days of last December. Gift cards suddenly became a primary way of bringing communities together and supporting local establishments.

So, consider the unapparent. Donate on the recipient’s behalf, let them choose an Airbnb experience, give them a membership to Calm, or a digital voucher for a staycation — the opportunities are endless.

There is of course more to consider than just the above. But it’s a great place to start.

We see better corporate gifting as a long-term habit that is going to be sustained. In the past, corporate gifts were used to drive more sales back to the business. Now, the focus has shifted to prioritising emotional benefits, relationship building and making people feel valued. Ultimately, these things work together to boost productivity and loyalty which grow the bottom line.


Jonathan Legge is CEO and co-founder of gifting platform &Open

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