Remember when companies gave away gift idols of deities to their employees? Ouch! Nor do they hand out silver coins any more. Considering the prices of the precious metals, that’s a shame!
Times have changed plenty and utility items designed in a way that is aesthetic and appealing are in demand. But if you want your employees to smile, not grimace, you have to get it right. The key is to be tasteful and trendy. Well, you’re in luck because leading brands are slowly but steadily getting into the corporate gifting segment. And the best part is, no more going shop-to-shop to zero in on the ‘best gift’ to reward your employees or please your clients. Most companies now have an online catalogue and will also come to you with an array of samples.
“We ask our clients to go through our website and choose from the 1,000-plus products we have. We then take a few select products to their office and close the deal,” reveals Rikhi Khorana, Founder and CEO, Giftwell India, which launched in 2001 with a seed capital of Rs 2,000. “Over the years, corporate gifting has gained immense importance and now has a market size of Rs1,000-1,200 crore.”
Today, the corporate gifting segment, which once had only unorganised players, has quite a few players, many of them recognised globally. Jolly Jose, Director, eYantra, says, “We have a presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata. We have a dedicated customer care team, quality control team and account management team to maintain relationships with our customer base. We are part of International Gifts Council, a 50-year-old global alliance that has more than 40 members across five continents, with one member representing each country. They connect us to global vendors and that’s how we are able to sell lucrative products in India. We are also the institutional partners of global firms like Swiss Military India, among other brands.”
Not only do these players provide myriad choices, they also personalise items and offer exclusive pieces. “While, earlier, gifts were purely exchanged for a new-year-new-beginning-purpose, today gifts are customised in a way that it empowers brand association. Most corporate firms want their logos on the gift. They are looking at gifts from a wider perspective and are using them as a tool to create brand awareness in the market,” says Khorana. “For the rest of the year, they require products for reward and recognition, training programmes, marketing campaigns, product launches, brand building exercises etc.”
How Gifting Companies Operate
Right from designing products to retailing and e-retailing them, it’s all taken care of by gifting companies. “We source our products from various places across India and a few countries overseas as well. We therefore spend a lot on creating samples. But through experience and constantly upgrading, we have a rough idea of what is appreciated in the market. While earlier, one-tenth of our products were appreciated, now half of them are a hit,” reveals Khorana.
For gifting companies, the biggest challenge is gift vouchers from companies like Sodexo and department stores and malls like Shoppers’ Stop. “We are seeing a lot of demand for innovative products like bar games, which are new to the market; besides traditional favourites like travel accessories, desktop items, leather items, pens and electronics, among others,” says Khorana.
There is also a surge in demand for branded items, provided there is quality assurance. Some big brands have thus created a separate line of products for corporate gifting. These products are not available in the retail market and come with a very high MRP. “Benetton had come up with a combo MRP of Rs 10,000. They sold it to us for Rs 1,500 and we sold it at Rs 1,600-1,800 to corporate firms,” reveals a gifting company on condition of anonymity.
Recession But Scaling Up
The good news is the economic slowdown has not impacted the desire to gift. “Although the total number of units sold has not decreased, the paying power of many companies has declined 20 per cent, so many of them prefer to buy products that are comparatively cheaper. Had it not been for the slowdown, we would have grown at a much quicker pace,” adds a spokesperson of eYantra, which is growing at 35 per cent year-on-year and whose turnover was Rs 36 crore during the last financial year.
The gift of giving may be motivated by things other than pure generosity, like brand recall. “Many corporate companies are not into occasion-specific gifting any more. Since people get lots of gifts during Diwali and New Year, they tend to forget who gave them what. So they are staggering their gifting and not making it Diwali-centric,” says Mukul Goyal, Director, Designwise India. But who cares? Everybody loves a freebie, right?
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