Thinking Outside the (Gift)Box

Thinking Outside the (Gift)Box

What is corporate gifting, and how can SMEs leverage it?
By Aiden J. Gonzales

The wrap-up: what, how and why

While gift-giving is a tradition as old as humanity itself, corporate gifting is a phenomenon that the Western business world has just recently wrapped their head around. A concept that consists of businesses giving gifts to employees, clients, and partners at appropriate occasions, corporate gifting has actually existed in many Asian business practices for decades. In these cases, gifts are often given when parties meet for the first time as an overture of friendship or business relationship, or as a way to mark special occasions such as the new year or other culturally significant events.

Regardless of origin, it’s now increasingly accepted as an important tool in any business’ arsenal, one that can be leveraged by SMEs to build a sense of trust and reciprocity in their partners and employees, what is known as the ‘endowment effect.’ The literal gift that keeps on giving, the benefits of corporate gifting are manifold: 

When gifting employees:

• It allows for ease of onboarding
• Increases job satisfaction and productivity
• Improves general morale and employee retention
• Empowers them
• Is an effective way to recognise their professional performance or milestones
• Establishes that you as the employer care about them as individuals

When gifting clients or partners:

• It develops your business relationship
• Increases your brand’s visibility by keeping you top of mind
• Has been known to increase sales, revenue, and positive reviews and referrals
• Increases your brand’s favourability for prospective clients and partners

More than these advantages, however, it’s important to note that corporate gifting is also a chance to communicate your brand’s unique voice and values, and this can only be done by putting real thought and effort into your choice of gift. Specifically, personalised and sustainable choices help you as a business stand out, highlighting your longterm commitment to both your recipient and the world we live in. 

Before the present: the history of gifting in Thailand

Unlike other East Asian business cultures, gift giving is not as common in corporate Thailand, although the practice has lately been on the rise. Traditionally, corporate gifting is relegated to businesses’ or clients’ first meetings as an appreciation of hospitality, but any exchange must pay heed to the Thai culture’s keen sense of the appropriate. Quality is paramount, but anything too extravagant or ostentatious will make people feel uncomfortable, or worse, be seen as an attempt at a bribe. Food, flowers, or useful items are customary. 

As part of Thailand’s very hierarchical culture, respect is key when building business relationships, which may take time to form. Gift giving as a form of appreciation and gratitude is not uncommon during this time, but do not make the mistake of bombarding your recipient with presents. Recent Thai generations, however, have veered away from the customarily strict sense of hierarchy and are instead embracing a work culture that’s more collaborative and empowering for all employees, regardless of their role. Personalised gifts in these cases are a great way to foster team spirit and loyalty. 

If you’re a business in Thailand or planning to work with one, jot these down:

• Gifts of threes are considered lucky, so embrace the triple threat
• Don’t give your employees the literal sack! As artistic people, Thais appreciate effort and creativity, so invest in the presentation of your gift, and consider incorporating the auspicious colours of yellow and gold
• Avoid the funerary colours of green, black, or blue in your wrappings
• New Year, New Gift: make sure to give presents during the Thai Lunar New Year (Songkran), the Chinese New Year, and the international New Year

Trend or Treat? 

Unlike a good present, trends in corporate gifting don’t fit into a single box. Over the last year, firms have realised the importance of mindfulness, inclusivity, sustainability, and personal and mental care, and this is reflected in the overall choices of gifts. Make sure to take note of these current trends: 

• Gifts that improve your brand recognition and say something about your brand’s unique voice (although gifting promotional items with your business’ logo is still seen as a faux-pas);
• Focusing on presentation to show effort beyond the bare minimum
• Personalisation, such as a personalised note or a customised item with your recipient’s name
• Meaningful and memorable items that are useful (not gift cards)
• Gifts that assist in working from home
Gifts with a focus on values:

Inclusivity for all genders, orientations, races, religions, and cultures
Locally-made products
Gifts that give back to the community
Handmade or artisanal items
 Products from women- or minority-owned businesses
High-quality, sustainable, and long-lasting items

Don’t forget to end with a bow

Still unsure of what you can give that’s practical, sustainable, and attractive? Here are some examples to gift you a hand:

• Useful, practical items for everyday use, such as the ones in our The 9-5 gift box, which includes a bamboo cutlery set and an on-the-go cupholder for the professional on the move

• Shareable food or drinks made of high-quality ingredients. For example, all of the teas and coffees in our gift sets are locally sourced, single origin, and the perfect pick-me-up present for any occasion

• A sincere, handwritten note with a personalised address and message. A complimentary addition to any of our gift boxes, our notes have the bonus of being written on elegant stationery, designed by local artists

• Customised kits according to your recipient’s interests and hobbies, such as travelling or art. For example, gift inspiration to a budding artist with our Young Artist gift box, which has all the tools they need to add colour to their day. 

• Office (or work from home) essentials. Emphasise that one’s occupation doesn’t have to be mere labour, but a labour of love with our Hello Monday gift box, which includes a notebook ready for fresh ideas and a sophisticated brass pen. 

• Items focused on wellness and self-care, such as those in our Sabai Sabai or A Day In The Life boxes, which are specifically curated to help recipients relax and pamper themselves.