Giftwrapped gift

This year more companies are planning to present gifts to employees and clients.

So says the annual corporate gift-giving report from the Advertising Specialty Institute, which says that 42% plan to reward employees — a small increase from 2017, when 40% gave gifts — and 37% intend to show their clients appreciation in the form of gifts, up 5 percentage points from last year.

They’re not really breaking open the corporate coffers to do it, though; nearly 80% of respondent companies said they’re planning to stick to last year’s budget overall for holiday business gift-giving. Customers, however, will probably be on the receiving end of a tad more largesse, while employees get short shrift. Employers giving holiday gifts to customers or prospects plan to spend more on them this year than last — an average of $48 on each, up from last year’s $46.

But when it comes to employees, companies are planning on shaving expenses. While 75% of companies planning to thank employees do intend to include all workers, that doesn’t mean they’ll be spending more to do so. Last year the average cost per employee was $79; this year the average is expected to be down $14, to $65 apiece.

Businesses aren’t giving to clients or prospects without expecting something in return, though; although respondents said those gifts were spurred by wanting to express appreciation and help develop relationships, they also want to generate company goodwill, boost company awareness, obtain a referral, generate a lead and get a sale.

The most popular gifts according to the survey, include gift cards, apparel, food or beverages, drinkware and desk accessories. But some of the answers are quite different when respondents are asked what their “best ever” corporate holiday gift was; while “ham,” “nice large fruit basket” and “jacket with Alzheimer’s awareness on it” were among the responses, so were “tablet computer,” “Tiffany necklace” and a “trip for everybody down to Reno for three days all expenses paid.”

— Check out What to Do for Clients at the Holidays on ThinkAdvisor.