Cashing in on corporate gifts

A tradition of gifting

Corporate gifting has now become a strategic tool for brand recall among clients, sealing a deal with a promise to engage the company for the next project, a personal reminder to clients that their accounts are crucial to the company and retaining channel loyalty, a critical factor in some sectors.

"Corporate gifting is a year-long activity across various gifting scenarios-events, landmarks, rewards and recognition, felicitations and festivals. Employees, clients, channel partners, associates and business partners need to be engaged with the organisation, necessitating numerous reasons for gifting", says Mukesh Bansal, CEO, Myntra.com
He said that as per rough estimates, the size of the corporate gifting market in India is around $200 million. This does not include the seasonal/festival corporate gifting market and the regular office product market (stationery and technology products).

"Corporates are increasingly trying to break free from the legacy of traditional gifts. They search for products that thrill their associates, clients, employees", said Bansal.

Gifts have gone on to include a trip to some golden sun-soaked beaches abroad, a chocolate spa promising a massage in aromatic oils and a chocolate body wrap, to presenting exquisite personalised pieces of art or decor.
Bansal says companies are increasingly becoming product conscious when it comes to corporate gifting, looking out for innovative products and prefer them over simple, conventional products.
"Gone are the times of safari suits and wrist watches. Today you have more options than anytime before", says Srikanth Acharya, Director Operations, Touchstone Enterprises.
Gifting may do a lot to lighten the heart and add a smile on the client or employee's face but they definitely come at a price. "Allocation of funds depends on the revenue generation of the company. The other factor is the size of business, size, culture and management system( centralised or decentralised). Private sector in service industry might choose to spend on goodies to capture the market and others might not", says  Acharya.
There are no set industry norms, agrees Bansal. It varies from one company to other and depends on the occasion and reason, he says. MNCs are inclined to presenting expensive gifts like i-pods, tickets for foreign trips and crystal products for premium clients.
"Private players cannot sustain themselves without goodies, especially in the service industry", said Acharya.

Despite the trimming of budgets and stringent audits, companies are in no mood to barter quality for cheapness. "Companies cannot risk gifting cheap products to their clients or partners and impacting prospects of long-term business potential", says a small player.
"They will try to bargain for the best in the available price category", he said.
On the employee side, "Companies are doing everything to keep staff motivated, retain talent and mentor them", said Bansal adding that recession has impacted corporate gifting market to the extent that they are now taking a longer time to close orders and are negotiating harder on pricing.
With signs of recovery, the players are optimistic of corporates loosening purse strings even more and gifting with a large heart. "With the advent of multinationals and increased economic activity, the industry is poised to grow healthily in years to come", said Bansal.
Currently the industry is competitive but fragmented and largely unorganised. "There is no dominant national player who can claim to have a large market share", he said.
Going forward, corporates would increasingly looking at lifestyle and eco-friendly products, which spells a demand for more innovative products in this range, he said.

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