Believe it or not, extensive scientific research and theorizing has been done on the giving and receiving of gifts – what motivates people to do it, what purpose it serves, and what benefits it brings to the parties giving and receiving.
One school of thought views it as a purely pragmatic way of generating obligation on the part of the person getting the gift, putting pressure on them to reciprocate in some way – I gave you a present, now you owe me something just as good. One study looking at people who buy lots of gifts for their pets, however, points out that these folks can’t be expecting a dog or cat to feel obliged to buy them something in return for that nice chew toy or catnip mouse.
One thing experts do seem to agree on is that the giving and receiving of gifts plays a major role in how people co-exist and relate to each other. The choice of a gift sends a message to its receiver about what kind of person we think they are, what kind of relationship we have or want to have with them, and how much we value them.
True for both people and companies
What’s true of individuals in this case also goes for organizations. When you give a corporate gift, the evidence that you put some thought into your choice, and made it with the recipient in mind, counts for a lot. In a 2010 article in the Harvard Business Review, corporate CEO Peter Bregman suggests that gift-giving, whether personal or corporate, should be all about appreciation – “We give people gifts to show them that we are grateful for them and value the role they play in our lives.”
One simple and effective way to show you chose a corporate gift with its recipient in mind is to select something you think they will really use or appreciate. Another is to personalize whatever gift you choose with a custom engraved message.