Sending inspiring gifts to a large group of people sounds easier than it is. From shipping to suppliers to personalization, there's a lot to consider when designing and implementing a bulk gifting program. This definitive guide is meant to help you get started on the right path to a successful implementation.
There are right ways and wrong ways to approach bulk gifting as a company.
Done right, bulk gifting can deepen your relationships with customers, clients, and employees. And in so doing, it can help to grow your company through increased customer loyalty and high employee retention. The challenge for companies is to design a bulk gifting program that’s cost effective, stays fresh and creative, and can scale as you your company grows.
Done incorrectly, bulk gifting can actually hurt your relationship with customers, clients, and employees. This can happen despite your best efforts. An inexpensive gift that your recipients don’t want can make your company appear out of touch with their wants and desires, and indifferent to the environment waste that unwanted gifts produce. Unwanted gifts can trigger negative emotions that subsequently get tied to a gift recipient's memory of your brand.
- Five questions to ask before you send any gifts
- Toward a broader definition of the gift industry
- Make an impact. The best bulk gifts help others
- Additional resources
Five questions to ask before you send any gifts
Question 1: Why are you bulk gifting?
This may seem like an obvious question but often companies forget to ask themselves what they are trying to achieve through bulk gifting. Here it's important to ask five whys to ensure you truly understand your objectives.
Your company may be planning to send bulk gifts to customers on Thanksgiving:
- Why? Because you want to show your gratitude.
- Why? Because you want your customers to feel valued and appreciated.
- Why? Because you want your customers to become repeat customers and refer you to other potential customers.
- Why? Because you want to grow your business.
- Why? Because you want your business to achieve a meaningful impact in the world.
By mapping out the rationale for your bulk gifting, you can more easily pitch it to your executive team and hone in on the most appropriate gifts. This exercise will also help you evaluate the effectiveness of your bulk gifting strategy afterward.
Question 2: What emotions do you want to evoke?
Once you know why you are bulk gifting, you can then think about the gift recipient emotions that are most likely to lead to the completion of these objectives.
From the example above, a Thanksgiving gift would be given to customers to evoke feelings of appreciation, warmth, connection, and belonging. Certain gifts and gift experiences will be more effective at producing these emotions in customers than others.
Question 3: What are the least expensive and least wasteful gifts available?
Cost and waste are equally important considerations when giving gifts. There are plenty of inexpensive gifts that can be given as bulk gifts but they are often undesirable and wasteful. For your environmentally-minded customers, receiving a gift like these can spark the opposite reaction than you had intended.
By evaluating gifts with the criteria of least expensive and least wasteful while still aligned to the objectives and desired emotional response, you will likely arrive at a bulk gift that's perfectly suited to your situation and least likely to trigger unintended negative emotions & consequences.
Question 4: Can your bulk gift of choice scale as you grow?
The gifts you give set an expectation. And if the ultimate objective of a bulk gift strategy is to grow your business, you'll want to make sure you've landed on a gift that can still be given when you're company is 2, 3, or even 10 times its current size. You don't want your company to be perceived as having scaled back its gifting because it's grown.
Question 5: How can you enhance the experience around the gift?
This last question is perhaps the most overlooked. Companies often focus too much on the gift and not enough on the gift experience. The term gift experience refers to the entire journey from first being notified of a gift to unwrapping the gift to revealing what the gift is and ultimately experiencing or using it. This entire experience will evoke a range of emotions, ideally including the emotions you are trying to evoke.
For this reason, the gift experience needs to be given special consideration. When bulk gifting, there are plenty of opportunities to enhance the gift experience. And there are plenty of opportunities to detract from the experience.
We hope you have found these grounding questions helpful! The UnWrapIt team would be happy to help design and implement a bulk gifting strategy for your company.
Toward a broader definition of the gift industry
Traditionally, the gift industry has limited its domain to purely material goods such as jewelry, home decor, flowers, and fashion items. This definition of the gift industry is unnecessarily limiting, especially for companies that are designing a bulk gifting program. The limitation represents a missed opportunity to promote the giving of gifts that have been empirically shown to make gift recipients and gift givers happier.
In 2003, researchers Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich published a frequently cited article on consumer choice & happiness entitled, To Do or to Have? That Is the Question. The researchers set out to answer the question, "Do experiential purchases make consumers happier than material purchases?" (Spoiler alert: They do.)
Further research on this question applied to gift giving can be found in these two articles:
- Just Like Being There: The Good and the Bad of Sharing ExperiencesAbstracts from four papers on the topic
- Experiential Gifts Are More Socially Connecting than Material GiftsBy Cindy Chan and Cassie Mogilner
In their 2003 article, Van Boven and Gilovich describe a spectrum of purchases ranging from purely material to purely experiential. Below are their definitions of each end of the spectrum:
- Purely Material: Those purchases "made with the primary intention of acquiring a material good: a tangible object that is kept in one’s possession"
- Purely Experiential: Those purchases "made with the primary intention of acquiring a life experience: an event or series of events that one lives through"
This distinction is helpful for those in the gift industry since many gifts that people love fall somewhere between purely material and purely experiential.
Unwrapit is on a mission to reimagine corporate gifting and part of that means reimagining what makes for an appropriate gift on any occasion. To that end, we're proposing an even broader definition of the gift industry that includes the material/experiential spectrum that Van Boven and Gilovich describe but is not limited to it.
As we see it, the five domains of the gift industry are:
- Gift Cards
- Digital Gifts
- Charitable Gifts
- Service Gifts
With this broader definition in mind, we're hopeful that virtually any consumer-facing business (or charity) will come to see itself as potentially, or already, in the business of selling gifts. And by extension, that companies designing and implementing a bulk gifting program can expand their menu of gift options.
Make an impact: The best bulk gifts help others
Every holiday season, companies will spend an average of USD $79 on each of their employees and an average of USD $46 to thank their key customers and prospects. That's according to last 2017's Corporate Gift Spending Survey.
Combined, the amount companies spend on their employees, customers, and prospects this holiday season and throughout the year is in the billions of dollars.
This generosity is admirable but it becomes problematic when we compare the most common corporate gifts—apparel and gift cards—with the most undesirable gifts as reported by gift recipients: clothing and accessories followed by household items. In 2017, MarketWatch calculated that Americans spent approximately USD $16b on holiday gifts that got thrown away.
Fortunately, there are different kinds of gift that companies can give in bulk that are by design landfill-proof. Below are just a few examples of some of the non-material gifts that a company can give in bulk and know that its gift won't end up in the trash:
- Movie tickets
- Invitations to a special events (live or virtual)
- Digital media (i.e: eBook, Audiobook, Exclusive interview)
- Discounts & promotions
- Awards & recognition
- And last, but certainly not least, charitable donations
At Unwrapit, we champion charitable donations as a form of bulk gift that not only can't be thrown away but by its very nature has a clear benefit to others. It's our strong belief that gifts that help others and the planet are the best kinds of bulk gifts.
When charities can tap into the billions of dollars that companies across Canada and the U.S. spend each year on bulk corporate gifts to their employees, customers, and prospects, the gift recipients are happier, and companies know that they strengthening their most important relationships by making an impact.
Below are some additional resources that may be helpful as you define your company's approach to bulk gifting.