Editor's Picks: Giving Joy

 

Gifts are relationship investments. Whether we are dropping off a hot meal to a neighbor, treating a loyal employee or making something special for Mother’s Day, we use gifts to not only show our love and appreciation but to strengthen the bonds we already have with others. While in lockdown, consumers used gifts to fill the gap created by the social-distancing requirements. Gifts sent just to say “thinking of you” were a favorite way that people and businesses checked in on loved ones and customers alike. According to a gifting market report from Ask Wonder, the gifting market soared in 2020, reaching an estimated $250 billion in the U.S. In comparison, in 2019, the same market had an estimated worth of $170 billion.

Gift-giving requires time, money and thought, as gift-givers must carefully choose an item that sends the intended message to recipients. Gifts also validate our relationships as tangible examples of care and attention. According to the National Retail Federation, gift-givers are expected to increase their average spending from $205 in 2020 to $221 this year, an eight-percent increase. More significantly, young consumers, aged 25-34 years old, will spend $367 on average, which is $99 more than last year. 

Although holiday gift-giving is the centerpiece, the culture of gifting has slowly become a prominent facet of our everyday lives. A Unity Marketing study found that about 45 percent of gift spending goes towards holiday gift-buying which suggests that 55 percent of gift spending occurs outside of the holiday season. In the case of business giving, this could include new customer generation, customer appreciation, gift with purchase and similar ways to say thank you. 

With the shift from brick-and-mortar retail to digital commerce in the early 2000s, the gift market had a period of rejuvenation as the internet enabled consumers to peruse products across an endless number of sources. For shoppers, research and reviews have become critical to the buying process, and advances in shipping have made it possible to have nearly any type of goods delivered. For businesses, rapid product innovation and enhanced personalized options have created exponential gifting capabilities, and ecommerce continues to reshape the gift-giving experience. During the pandemic, as consumers used gifts to stay in touch while staying safe, more people navigated the ecommerce landscape, ordering and sending gifts to loved ones, and their online shopping behavior changed along with the rapid digital transformation and ecommerce growth. According to digital marketing firm NetElixir, the online gifting industry saw the biggest growth in new online shoppers last year, growing eight percent year-over-year in 2020 compared to 2019. NetElixir also found that Millennials and Gen Z’s contributed the most to the pool of new online shoppers and according to Google, global searches for “online gift” increased by 80 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

In  promotional products sales, business gifts was the second most-popular program category in 2020
(after brand awareness) at 15.3 percent, contributing $2.9 billion in total distributor sales, according to PPAI’s 2020 Sales Volume Report. 

Luxury food and beverage provider Cartwright & Butler reports that 95 percent of businesses see corporate gifting as an indispensable part of their business strategy because employee recognition gifts help keep employees engaged and feeling appreciated during tough times. Joelle Stahlecker, CAS, marketing coordinator for supplier Maple Ridge Farms, says that gourmet food gifts have been an easy way for businesses to reach out to clients and employees. 

“Working through a distributor, an insurance company put together a promotion, mailing our treat cylinder filled with gourmet treats, a sweatband and a jump rope to employees to remind them to stand up and step away from their desks while working from home. It was a great initiative to keep employees motivated in improving their health,” she says.

Research firm Alyce reports that 70 percent of people say they would like to receive a gift that was uniquely selected for them based on their interests, and the same percentage believe that a hand-selected gift will entice them to do business with a company, making unique gifts 2.3 times more powerful than standard, one-size-fits-all choices. Gifts reflect both the giver and receiver’s personalities, so for clients looking to strengthen or build relationships, encourage them to give unique gifts that reflect the response and reaction they want to achieve with recipients. 

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For clients looking to commemorate an event or connect with their employees, photo-personalized gifts are one-size-fits-all. Products that can incorporate personal photos are impactful, representing a large portion of the total personalized gift market, according to consumer research firm Technavio. The personalization of photo-related products can elevate any promotion and effectively demonstrate brand values. The global personalized gift market is expected to grow to $31.6 billion by 2021, representing a growth of over 50 percent from 2016 when the market for personalized gifts was estimated to be $20.5 billion. While it’s easy to snap a picture, getting the photo off the screen takes time and money. According to Keypoint Intelligence, people will take 1.4 trillion photos in 2021, most of which will not be printed. The growth of camera phones and digital cameras has made it easier to share and store countless photos, significantly diminishing the need for film and traditional film development.

But the novelty and aesthetic of retro film cameras has once again popularized Polaroid and disposable cameras in mainstream media, signaling the continued vitality of printed photos. In the promotional products industry, disposable cameras are available with a branded wrapper and photo-related products—such as easel-backed frames and desk cubes that hold a printed photo along with pens and paperclips—signal the rise in consumer interest for more creative ways to capture, share and display cherished memories or artwork. Clients can also choose unique and trendy photo-related products like a photo-personalized puzzle or a digital photo frame to instantly display pictures from their smartphones. Whether for a school graduation or a sales meeting, personalized photo keepsakes show thoughtfulness that help clients connect with every recipient. 

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The “I Think You’re On Mute” gift box set is a fun mailer kit for employees who work from home or virtual trade-show attendees. This kit features a mint tin filled with micro-mints and an 11-ounce full color ceramic matte mug filled with a social media-shaped gummy candy mix. All items are available with custom design plus a logo or full customization.

NC Custom  /  PPAI 111662, S7  /  www.nccustom.com

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For clients wanting a gift that lasts, offer the Burnout Temperature Regulating Tumbler. With a lifetime guarantee, recipients can replace the mug for free for malfunctions due to manufacturing defects. Derived from space technology, this tumbler contains a patented HeatZorb material that lowers the temperature of hot beverages to a drinkable temperature within minutes, then maintains that drinkable temperature for several hours. Available in red (shown) or black, choose a 12-ounce or a 16-ounce tumbler. 

Burnout Mugs  /  PPAI 776973, S1  /  burnoutmugs.com

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Take the love of puzzles to new branding heights with this premium acrylic puzzle. It’s an attention-grabbing gift perfect for corporate settings, schools, hospitals, senior centers and more. The full-color acrylic puzzle keeps users constantly interacting with brands. An easy-to-wrap gift, it comes in a small and large size.

Toddy Gear  /  PPAI 516677, S6  /  www.toddypromo.com

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A useful and thoughtful gift, the SousChef is a solid, 100-percent Canadian Maple cutting board. Made in Canada, SousChef makes a desirable gift because it is multi-functional. It includes a digital scale, a digital timer, two built-in knife sharpeners and a slide-out tablet stand to hold a recipe in perfect view.

Powerstick.com  /  PPAI 383252, S8  /  powerstick.com/main

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Get two valuable gifts for the price of one with the Blankow. This ultra-soft, 100-percent polyester, 84-by-54-inch sherpa blanket easily folds into a pillow. It is ideal for traveling and even makes napping at home more comfortable. Available in four colors: black-charcoal buffalo (shown), black heather, oatmeal heather and red-black buffalo. 

J. America  /  PPAI 351669, S1  /  www.jamericablanks.com

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For notetakers, doodlers and big thinkers, give the Bright Ideas Journal. This vibrant journal with an exposed colorful binding will inspire recipients and get their creative juices flowing. With 10 different colors of paper and plenty of room to record “Rosy Outlooks,” “Evergreen Observations,” “Sunny Thoughts” and more, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. 

The Book Company   /   PPAI 218850, S5  /  www.thebookco.com  

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Motivate and excite employees with this gourmet treat cylinder filled with two tasty treats to share—or keep all to themselves. Sweeten virtual meetings or back-to-office initiatives with this full-color cylinder. 

Maple Ridge Farms  /  PPAI 114165, S8  /  www.mapleridge.com

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Looking to send a message? Gift these sleek, wireless earbuds. Designed with breakthrough acoustics and effective noise cancelling, these earbuds will improve any listening experience. Whether it's for music, videos or podcasts, these earbuds produce crisp, clear audio that users will enjoy and value. 

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912, S10  /  www.incentiveconcepts.com

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A perfect excuse for ice cream, the Scoops & Sprinkles batch kit will win over any recipient. With designer sprinkles, cones, syrups and even an ice cream scoop, creating a delicious treat is easy. Delivered in a customizable box that plays ice cream truck music, this kit has Batch & Bodega’s new Fresh line of gourmet ice creams by Coolhaus and Atomic Creamery.

HPG  /  PPAI 792175, S11  /  www.hpgbrands.com

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The Reset & Recharge kit is a great gift set to tackle the workday at the office or at home. It includes two quality tech products that will be used daily. The PowerPad is a desktop charger for a phone and Apple Watch. The Ari is a portable Bluetooth speaker.

Powerstick.com  /  PPAI 383252, S8  /  powerstick.com/main

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This spa-weight Waffle Weave Robe is an ideal gift for any recipient. Put it on when getting out of the shower or bath, walking to or from the pool, spa or steam room, and even while working from home. This 52-inch robe is one size to fit most. Clients can personalize any 100-percent cotton robe with a monogram. Available in white. 

Pro Towels /  PPAI 112755, S8  /  www.protowels.com

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What makes these plush tech buddies a unique gift? Not only are they super cute, they also include a screen-cleaner on their bottoms, and they can hold a phone or glasses. Gift one of these mini stuffed animals for your recipient’s desktop and it will elicit a smile all day long. Choose from an elephant, lion, tiger, bear or monkey and customize the t-shirt with one-color sublimation.  

Crown/IMAGEN BRANDS  /  PPAI  113430, S10  /  www.imagenbrands.com

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Make the first week back in the office super sweet with the Five-Day Appreciation Snack Box. This snack box comes with five different candy bags for each day of the week. Clients can show a week's worth of appreciation with just one gift. The gummy candy box is filled with two-ounce digibags of gummy candy including sour gummy bears, gummy bears, assorted gummy fish, gummy sour apple rings and cherry bites.

NC Custom  /  PPAI 111662, S7  /  www.nccustom.com

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Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB. 

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