A year-round client appreciation strategy can help build better business relationships and boost sales.

The right corporate gift, especially one that is useful, can keep a business top of mind all year long. And now that the U.S. economy has improved, businesses are increasing their gift giving. According to Incentive Magazine’s 2016 Corporate Gift IQ Survey, the number of businesses that reported spending more money on corporate gifts in 2016 than they did in 2015 increased to 27.4 percent from 20.6 percent. They’re giving gifts to fewer recipients but they are giving on more occasions and they’re spending more per recipient, sometimes way more.

The number of respondents reporting that their firms gave out the most expensive gifts (those costing $1,000 or more per recipient) increased from 1.3 percent to 6.2 percent between 2015 and 2016. And spending on gifts costing between $300 and $999 was up almost 30 percent, from 4.8 to 6.2 percent. Companies reporting the smallest gift budgets ($25 or less per recipient) dropped more than 28 percent, from 27.2 percent in 2015 to 19.5 percent in 2016.

The study also revealed that gift cards remain the most popular corporate gift with apparel, desktop/office accessories, electronics, food, writing instruments, books/music/movies, leather goods, wine and spirits, and watches rounding out the top 10 corporate gift categories.

Browse through the following pages for great gift ideas, relevant case studies and tips for getting gift-giving right.

Unforgettable Gifts

branded sauces web

Delight clients with your own private label sauces. Choose from hot sauces, condiments, drink mixes and salsas with your company name and logo on them. These delicious, award-winning sauces will satisfy flavor connoisseurs with heat and zest, from sriracha to Carolina Reaper to Chicago style hot dog sauce.

Branded Sauces PPAI 658930 www.brandedsauces.com


Robe & Slippers gift set

As plush as it looks, this robe and slippers gift set includes an exquisite embroidered Turkish kimono-style robe, quilted velour slippers, and a ribbon with custom gift card. It’s a gift that’s guaranteed to make a memorable impact at any corporate presentation and will be treasured for many years around the home.

Towel Specialties PPAI 113150 www.towelspecialties.com

Cross PackagingCross Pen

Create a timeless and stunning gift while offering clients a variety of locations for branding with this classic Cross pen. Package it in a hinged luxury gift box with hidden subfloor platform to hold extra refills, a romance booklet and an attractive pen stand that accepts decoration, and branding opportunities on the exterior of the bundled gift.

Cross PPAI 114156 www.cross.com

executive backpack

This is truly an executive backpack designed for today’s modern business person, with a multi-pocket section for work files and a secure, padded laptop or tablet compartment. Luxuriously designed and with a high exterior finish, the SMART City 1001 also features a biometric (fingerprint recognition) lock and built-in charger to keep your devices powered on the go. This backpack also includes innovative anti-slash fabric layers and puncture-resistant zips, making it highly secure and stylish.

KleerWest, LLC PPAI 601859 www.kleerwest.com


Give the gift of reading with five free digital books of the recipient’s choice. Choose from 15 different categories. Your client’s logo will be printed in beautiful full color on a credit card-sized card. Each card has a code which is redeemable on FiveFreeBooks.com.

Nationwide Promotions LLC PPAI 261136 www.nwpromos.com

Craft Vest

For easy portability and just the right amount of warmth, the Stow Lite Vest is made with PrimaLoft® insulation and is compressible and packable into one of the two hand pockets.

Craft Sportswear PPAI 637932 www.craftcorporate.com

illumniating power bank

Light up any logo with the stylish 4000 mAh illuminating power bank. The LED back-lit display brings logos to life while charging electronic devices. Additional features include an LED flashlight and battery level light-up indicator showing 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-percent battery life levels. Each power bank is individually gift-boxed and includes a USB micro charging cable and user manual.

Makana Line PPAI 649053 www.makanaline.com

Penelope Smoke Bowl

The Penelope Smoke Bowl is a made from mouth-blown/handcrafted lead-free cased glass from Poland. With a rich smoke color that is bold yet subtle, this beautiful and unique color décor accent has thick polished edges and a heavy sham bottom. It is made from all natural components and is environmentally sustainable.

Badash Crystal PPAI 331550 www.badashcrystal.com

crystal globe

This clear crystal globe is the perfect display of appreciation for those who deserve world-class recognition. It comes packed in an elegant black satin-lined gift box.

Essef Distributors/Lincoln Line PPAI 383490 www.lincolnline.com

Wobble Chess Set web

Add motion to an otherwise static game with the Umbra Wobble Chess Set. A concave landscape stabilizes freely quivering chess pieces, creating a lively interaction between board and pieces. This beautiful game board and pieces made of maple and walnut make a stunning and unique corporate gift for the home or office.

Pedersen Group, LLC PPAI 692721 www.pedersengroup.net

Lolliclock Rock

With its eye-catching, unique and colorful design, the Lolliclock Rock won the European Promotional Gift Award in its 2013 debut. This small clock adds a dash of whimsical function to any desk, night stand or counter. It comes in 13 fun colors and is packaged in a matching gift box. In addition to the standard version, it also comes in crystal, silver and gold.

BizPins, Inc. PPAI 223970 www.bizpins.com

Keep These Tips Top Of Mind 

Gift giving doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember these tips—adapted from a recent blog by The Vernon Company (PPAI 109323)—when determining your gift-giving strategy for clients and employees.

  1. DO give with a goal, and measure how well you achieved it. Find the best way to present your brand with a clear communication of the message the gift is supposed to get across. For example, if the goal is to thank recipients but also stay top of mind on a regular basis, then a useful gift is going to mean more impressions over a given time.

  1. DO use the right presentation to increase a gift’s effect. Creating a big deal around a gift’s presentation will raise its effectiveness. Thoughtful packaging not only boosts the perceived value of the gift, it boosts the perceived value of the recipient.

  1. DO customize and personalize as much as possible. Particularly with higher-end gifts, the thought and effort put into selecting the gift pays big dividends. Adding personalization also adds serious value to a gift. The recipient knows that the gift was meant for them personally, and this gives them a greater emotional connection with the gift and a feeling of being valued.
  2. DON’T buy at the low end of a product category. It’s better to buy at the high end of a lesser product category. If you’ve got a smaller budget to work with, pick a higher-quality item in a more modest product category. In other words, always choose quality. If you buy a very inexpensive item, it won’t be used—you might get one impression from the gift, and it won’t be a good one.

Case Studies


Axis custom bag web

Axis Promotion’s (PPAI 159158) client wanted a custom bag with the look and feel of a retail duffel for holiday gifts for their company’s clients. Says Johanna Gottlieb, senior branding specialist, “We looked at retail items to find trendy looks and materials and found that waxed canvas had a nice look. We popped the inside lining with the client’s blue and sewed woven labels onto the outside to give it nice, subtle branding.” The bags were a huge hit. “Clients see these in New York all the time and we get calls to see if one-offs can be done. This was such a success that it led us to the amazing problem we all love to have: ‘how do we beat that bag?’”


dove chocolate box

A distributor wanted a high-end gift for one of its clients to send to top-level distribution centers for the Hispanic market. The campaign’s purpose was to promote a new bar soap launch prior to Valentine’s Day. An 18-inch heart-shaped box filled with custom soap-shaped gourmet chocolates was shipped to recipients along with a real bar of the soap in January. Due to the promotion’s success, there has been significant growth in custom orders from the distributor.

Source: Chocolate Inn and Taylor & Grant


Ash vs Evil web

When Ash vs Evil Dead, the revival of the ’80s comedic horror movies in TV form, was premiering on Starz, the show wanted to commemorate the launch with something unique—and bloody. The solution was to deep etch an image of actor Bruce Campbell’s face into a bottle of Cabernet and paint it bright red with deep crimson paint rolled on with a rag to give extra texture to the design. “After producing 600 of these bottles, we were instructed by the distributor to ship them to their fulfillment house to be paired with other items. After the fulfillment house put together the gift sets, they realized that they were unable to ship the sets because they did not have the appropriate alcohol licenses. We overnighted UPS labels on our account, which is tied to all of our alcohol licenses, and allowed the fulfillment house to ship the gift sets on time, ahead of the premiere,” says Michael McCarron, owner of A+ Wine Designs (PPAI 173549).


Business Card Sculpture

Once they achieved a certain dollar amount in sales, an insurance company gave its top sales reps a business card sculpture constructed out of their own business cards.  The award led to a large company award for hitting a larger dollar amount in sales as a group. It was a wonderful team-building achievement, as it took everyone working together to make their sales accomplishment a reality. Having this sculpture, produced out of their own business cards, sitting right on their desk for all their peers and customers to see, was a great feeling for all who were able to achieve this goal.

Source: Fields Manufacturing

Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.