ASI Survey: Fewer Companies Giving Holiday Gifts to Customers

Gift giving to customers and prospects has been decreasing, according to a new ASI survey. The annual Corporate Gift Giving Study found that only 32% of companies plan to dole out gifts to customers this holiday season, compared to 37% last year and 42% in 2014. Meanwhile, 44% of companies will bestow holiday cheer to their employees, a figure that has remained steady from the previous two years.

The large majority of companies (80%) are planning to spend the same amount as they did last year, while 11% will increase their spending. Half of survey respondents will spend $45 or more per employee, while half will only spend $25 or more per customer/prospect. The median spending figure for customers and prospects declined $9 from last year.

Jamie Stone, president of Gifts by Design (asi/205947), has seen a switch where customers gave more gifts to clients than employees for several years, but that no longer seems to be the case. “It’s unclear if it’s somehow linked to the economy, or what causes the shift,” said Stone, whose distributorship is based in Seattle, “but in the past few years, we have had far more clients giving gifts to employees than to their customers.”

Cash bonuses and gift cards remain the two most popular gifts for employees, though cash offerings are on the rise (9% increase from last year) while gift cards are falling (5% decrease). Food or beverages and apparel are the next two most popular employee gifts.

When it comes to customer gifts, food or beverages remains the clear number-one choice, utilized by nearly half (47%) of companies. But that usage declined by 6% as companies turn to calendars, gift cards, apparel and drinkware as alternate choices.

Stone finds that tech gifts such as Bluetooth earbuds, headphones and speakers are very popular, as are jackets and vacuum-insulated tumblers. “They’re effective gifts because they’re not only gifts that people enjoy, but gifts people will use on a regular basis,” she said. “I truly believe that people do think about who gave them that gift every time they use it.”

Roughly three-quarters of companies make sure that all employees receive gifts. In addition, half of companies put their logo on all the gifts the give, while 13% do not brand any of their gifts. “If your branding is beautiful but subtle, your recipient will want to wear it,” says Diane Katzman, owner of Diane Katzman Designs, an incentive company that makes custom-branded jewelry and accessories. “Too branded, and it looks like a uniform or corporate ad. We work to create beautiful gifts that people want to wear, and that stimulate conversation. Also, with complementary fabric packaging, the gift box does double duty as a keepsake box.”

About a quarter of companies surveyed will not give gifts to employees, while a third remains unsure if they will. By contrast, over a third (36%) of companies will not give gifts to customers, and 32% are not sure.