Corporate Holiday Gift Giving Could Slow This Year, ASI Study Shows

Fewer companies are planning on giving gifts this holiday season, according to ASI data released today. And although companies are more likely to give gifts to employees rather than clients or prospects this year, the percentage of companies rewarding employees has also decreased to 40%, down from 44% last year. In total, three-fourths of companies are planning to spend the same amount as last year on all gifts, while 17% will reduce their spending, a jump from 9% last year, ASI’s nationwide Corporate Gift Giving Study found.

Companies thanking employees with cash or gifts this year are spending a median of $44, a dollar less than last year, the survey found. Apparel and gift cards are the two most popular gifts for employees, with apparel on the rise over the past three years from 29% to 40%. 

The survey found that 32% of companies plan to dole out gifts to customers this holiday season, unchanged from last year. Those companies are spending a median of $24, a dollar less than last year. Food or beverages are the most popular gifts for customers and prospects, followed by calendars, desk accessories, writing instruments and gift cards.

Historically, Indiana-based JH Specialty Inc. (asi/232445) has received more orders for employee appreciation gifts. Despite a less favorable gifting environment in 2017, this year has been no exception. “We’ve seen an uptick in volume and dollars of orders related to employee gifts this year, as it seems that with a tight labor market, companies are looking at their retention strategies,” said Jason Knothe, COO of JH Specialty Inc. “Our successes here have been realized when we’re proactive with existing clients and delivering specific gift ideas. Often the client doesn’t move forward with the original idea, but it’s a conversation starter that leads to other opportunities.”

Danny Rosin, co-president of North Carolina-based BrandFuel (asi/145025), says that digital gift cards have threatened corporate gift business during the holiday season. However, customization and personalization continue to be major factors in gift choices. “We are also seeing an uptick in interest of more personalized and higher-dollar branded gear with more discreet branding,” Rosin said. Indeed, more than 70% of holiday gifts will have a company’s logo imprinted on them in 2017, an increase over last year, the ASI survey found.

The majority of companies reported that expressing appreciation is the primary goal of giving gifts to customers and prospects, closely followed by relationship development. For its survey, ASI contacted people from a cross-section of industries who were screened to have a personal role in decisions about procuring corporate gifts for either employees or clients/prospects.