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The Gift Shift

In the world of corporate gifting run of the mill articles are out, thanks to cost-cutting. Reema Sisodia finds out what has taken their place

'The economy is passing through a phase of recession', 'people are not spending', 'companies as a policy have slashed down expenditure'.

Cost-cutting is in with a vengeance and at first glance corporate gifting appears to have become a casualty to it. But there is also a flipside. A new gifting philosophy has emerged – traditional seasonal gifting is out, promotional gifting activities are in.

Explaining this trend, Anand Punjabi, proprietor, Hide Park, suppliers of leather products to the corporate segment, says, "Corporate gifting is a 365 days business and gets busier by every day. Those who are spending are spending good money with attractive budgets earmarked specifically for corporate gifting."

Some even say that economic recession is a good thing for corporate gifting!

"Recession can in fact boost the corporate gifting scene since companies rely on gifts as a medium of providing incentives. Everyone is looking at something different and unique," says Tushar Mehta, director, Geetanjali Jewellers of Gili. He says the emphasis today is more on classic and contemporary goods, with the focus amongst the top brass and company bigwigs being on diamonds, gold and silver.

Shiv Kumar, country head consumer goods department, Swarovski, India, agrees. He says, "Today quality rules and regimented products are no more acceptable. Class and quality are the basic hallmarks, which one has to abide by. Crystal specialities are a big success amongst the corporate players and within the crystal world, personalisation of the products is what the present market emphasises on."

Run of the mill products are therefore almost extinct. Quality products, coupled with sophistication and class, is what is doing the rounds. Suvir Khullar, proprietor, Micro Solutions, says, "As a supplier of corporate gifts for over a decade, I find that the market has matured in its demand and taste. The buyer today will not settle for anything sub-standard. The Indian corporate clientele is constantly looking for exclusive products and new offerings. The demand is toward speciality products. The typical Made in China goods have completely lost their charm in the Indian corporate market."

New products that match the requirement of technology is another highly popular area amongst purchasers. Transparent Mouse Pads, emergency mobile phone battery chargers and office portfolio carriers are fast moving items in the market. The planners, diaries and key chains are out. Pens, one of the most common gifts, is only acceptable as a fashion product. Shalin Gandhi, managing director, Aayushi International, manufacturers of pens and gift articles for corporates, said, "A traditional gift item such as a pen also has to undergo constant changes in terms of presentation and style. We have to constantly create and innovate. To survive, one has to offer fashionable writing instruments, which can also be a status symbol for the client."

Personalisation of the product and tailor-made items are also very much in the offing.

Sareen says, "The major activity of our business comprises of designing products according to client specifications."

Corporate executives also vouch for the fact that gifting has undergone a subtle change.
"Though volumes of festival gifting may have dropped, the top management gets its share of goodies. The mid-level executives will also receive, maybe products that are a little more reasonable but definitely classy," says an executive who works for a multinational corporation.

Corporate gifting seems to be here to stay.

Gandhi puts in the final word, "It is a neverending business. Gifts though tangible in form have intangible results attached to it."

GIFTS ARE NOW CLASSY AND PERSONALISED: (clockwise from top) Crystal Op Art Box costing Rs 21,400; Stalactite Candleholder costing Rs 37,900; gold accessories