The cultural considerations to know when corporate gifting globally
When it comes to sending direct mail on a global scale, taking the time to get to know your giftee makes all the difference. Tailoring every gift send to each recipient and paying attention to the cultural nuances, values, customs, and beliefs of the place that your giftee calls home pays its dividends - 68% of people say receiving a memorable gift strengthened their relationship with the business they received it from.
If you're thinking about gifting across cultures by getting Christmas gifts for employees, sending personalized gifts to prospects, or delivering corporate gifts to customers, this blog tells you everything you need to know, region by region.
Global gifting considerations
Being mindful of different cultural customs and traditions should be ingrained into your corporate gifting strategy. Here are some pointers for gifting in different regions:
Corporate gifting in the United Kingdom & Ireland 🇬🇧 🇮🇪
In the UK and Ireland, gifting is seen as a normal and necessary part of day-to-day interactions with prospects and customers. Personalized emails perform especially well, particularly as door openers. Celebrating milestones is also very popular. Common milestones to celebrate with prospects, customers, and employees include birthdays, job anniversaries, promotions, and company funding.
Alcohol is a very popular gift to give, whether it's in the form of a gift card for happy hour or a branded bottle of gin. Sweet treats like cakes also go down well and can help BDRs break into those key accounts.
Gift-giving occasions in the UK and Ireland:
- Valentine's Day 💗
- St Patrick's Day ☘️
- Summer solstice ☀️
- Guy Fawkes Night 🎆
Corporate gifting in Germany 🇩🇪
In general, German buyers are more formal when it comes to business, which often means that they find gift cards and personalized outreach to be invasive. Gift cards are also less common in Germany, which is why there are fewer sending options for coffee or lunch eGifts. One main reason for this is that Germany still largely uses cash, making gift cards less popular.
When reaching out to a German prospect or company, consider gift sends like educational bundles which information that is beneficial to the buyer, where they can learn something new and relevant to them. Alongside the educational content, you could add a few branded items such as a water bottle, coffee, or a jar of cookies for them to enjoy while they read.
It's also better to send gifts to a recipient's office where possible, as asking for a home address in this region can be seen as too forward if you haven't already established a relationship.
Gift-giving occasions in Germany:
- German Unity Day 🇩🇪
- Oktoberfest 🍻
- Ostern (Easter) 🥚
Corporate gifting in France 🇫🇷
Displays of warmth and generosity between business associates are not the norm in French business culture. Giving presents is acceptable, but always exercise discretion. Gifts are however expected for social events, especially as thank-yous after an event or dinner. Thank you notes are also very common in French gifting culture, especially if they are handwritten. It's worth noting that Reachdesk marketplace offers stand-alone handwritten note options.
When it comes to gifts, the French prefer high-quality items as opposed to general swag and giveaways. Inexpensive items with big company logos on them are considered a little unrefined. Steer clear of snack big baskets or junk food and, instead, opt for products that are made locally in France. Bonus points if it's eco-friendly. Thanking a French prospect for their time by giving them a lunch voucher is also a thoughtful gesture.
Gift-giving occasions in France:
- Bastille Day 🇫🇷
- December solstice ❄️
Corporate gifting in Southern Europe 🇮🇹 🇪🇸
Relationship building is really important in places like Italy, Portugal, and Spain. You will often see people aim for face-to-face meetings where possible and gifting becomes the norm only after you have established contact with the individual.
Celebratory gifting also works well in Southern Europe, so when gifting in this region, bundles containing branded items like mugs and spoons, hot chocolate, and biscuits would go down a treat and get you that meeting.
Gift-giving occasions in Southern Europe:
- National Day of Spain 🇪🇸
- Ferragosto 🇮🇹
- Freedom Day 🇵🇹
- Ochi Day 🇬🇷
Corporate gifting in the Nordics 🇩🇰🇸🇪
If you’re doing a business deal in Scandinavia, then it's useful to know that exchanging gifts as part of business relationships is rarely done in this part of the world. Even on holidays, it’s not expected to give gifts. If you haven’t received a gift first from your business associate in Scandinavia, then you aren’t expected to bring a gift in return.
However, once you've closed the deal, companies may be more open to gifting. To reduce churn you could present the customer with a gift during the customer lifecycle, but it should be practical, such as a book about your country or a nice fountain pen.
Scandinavians appreciate sustainability and value things that they can actually use, so sending cinema tickets for the family to enjoy or a voucher to purchase a new book at the bookstore would work well. Highly personalized gifts don’t always resonate. Instead, make sure that what you’re sending can be tied back to the business’ value proposition. The top e-gift cards for this region include SuperGavekortet Denmark, SuperGavekortet Norway, and SuperPresentkort Sweden.
Gift-giving occasions in the Nordics:
- Midsummer 🌼
- The National Day of Sweden 🇸🇪
- Fastelavn 🍭
- Constitution Day 🇫🇮
Corporate gifting in Israel 🇮🇱
In Israel, it's most common for companies to send their employees and clients a gift before Rosh Hashanah and Passover. Gift ideas could include flowers, honey, dates, fruits, and books.
When gifting to recipients in Israel, make sure to avoid sending any edible gifts for Muslim recipients not deemed halal and any edible gifts for Jewish recipients that aren’t kosher.
Gift-giving occasions in Israel
- Passover 💡
- Rosh Hashanah 🍎
- Hanukkah 🕯️
Corporate gifting in the United States 🌎
Similar to the UK and Ireland, a gift focused on a recipient’s personal interests outside of work is most effective when gifting in the USA. The most common time to gift to a recipient in the United States is around the holiday period, from Thanksgiving to New Years. Halloween is also a great time for BDRs to re-engage with prospects or accounts that have ghosted them.
62% of Americans prefer personalized gifts over costly store-bought items, so using Reachdesk's Amazon Rainmaker feature and sending a personalized email referencing a personal recommendation, for example, what college they went to or their favorite baseball team is a must. All of this information can be found on LinkedIn.
Thanking a prospect or customer for their time is very common, either before or after a call and treating them to an eGift with lunch and coffee options is a great way to go - think Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle, or Uber Eats. If you're considering sending alcohol to your giftee, it's a popular choice, but remember that it can't be sent to the following states: Washington, Michigan, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, and Arkansas.
Gift-giving occasions in the United States
- Independence Day 🇺🇸
- Columbus Day ⛵
- Thanksgiving 🌽
Corporate gifting in APAC 🌏
Gift-giving is very popular in Asia. Many countries in the region have elaborate customs and traditions that stem from their culture and beliefs and gift-giving reflects these beliefs.
Giving business gifts in Asia is a tradition that has its complicated aspects. Gifts are a way of expressing gratitude, but also the desire for a meaningful, prosperous and long-term relationship, which is particularly important in business and politics. In addition, they are often associated with special festivals or celebrations, such as Chinese (Lunar) New Year or national days like the end of Ramadan or Buddha’s birthday. Gift ideas for APAC include food, candles, and luxury hampers containing sweets or cakes.
Gift-giving occasions in APAC
- Diwali 🇮🇳
- Chinese New Years 🐲
- Holi 🎨
- End of Ramadan ☪️️
Corporate gifting in Australia 🇦🇺
Gift-giving in Australia tends to be casual and relaxed. Gifts are not often expected and when given, are viewed as a gesture of goodwill as well as demonstrating gratitude.
In this region, thoughtfulness symbolizes more than the value of the gift. There are personal events in peoples’ lives in the workplace that call for gift-giving, such as birthdays, marriages, retirements, and other personal celebrations that call for a congratulatory gift. You can’t go wrong with craft beer, quality wine, gift hampers with chocolate and other perishable goodies
Gift-giving occasions in Australia
- Australia Day 🦘
- Anzac Day 🎖️
- King's Birthday 👑
Corporate gifting in India 🇮🇳
In India, the longer a business relationship progresses, the more common the act of gift-giving becomes. Instances that are appropriate for a gift include the closure of significant deals, the conclusion of successful negotiations, and key product or project launches.
It's worth remembering that private companies often have their own rules in place that might encourage an employee to decline any gifts to avoid the appearance of corruption. So, always check the company'- anti-bribery and gifting policies before proceeding. In light of this, gift cards are a good gift choice, with Costa and Flipkart being popular options. Also avoid wrapping gifts in black or white paper, as these are considered unlucky colors. Instead, use green, red, and yellow, since they are considered lucky colors.
Gift-giving occasions in India
- Gandhi Jayanti ✌️
- Rama Navami 🕉️
- Independence Day 🇮🇳
Corporate gifting in Japan 🇯🇵
Gift-giving is a huge part of Japanese culture. No matter the occasion - big, small, public, or private - you can guarantee a gift exchange will be taking place. In Japanese culture, modesty matters. This means it is common for the recipient to refuse the gift up to three times before accepting. This is an important custom because it shows your appreciation for the individual extending beyond a gift basket.
There are two main gift-giving periods in Japan:
- Ochugen is the name for the custom and gift that is given to people that are close to you. Usually, the gift-giving is done from the first of July until the 15th.
- Oseibo is usually given as early as late November to the 20th of December.
It's worth noting that gifts for Ochugen and Oseibo need not be extravagant or expensive. They can be tokens of appreciation for the other individual or business. Gift ideas could include flowers, gourmet or speciality food items, imported alcohol, or gifts in pairs that include the number eight. You should avoid sending corporate branded items or four or nine of any item since this is considered unlucky.
Gift-giving occasions in Japan
- Children's Day 👶
- Culture Day 🧑🎨
- Vernal Equinox Day 🌸
There’s a lot to know when gifting across cultures, but the most important takeaway here is that tailoring every gift send to each individual recipient is a winning strategy. Ultimately, paying attention to the customs and traditions that each prospect, employee, and customer values when gifting shows your eagerness to build strong, lasting relationships.
To learn even more about the psychology of gifting and the state of global gifting, head over to our resources page.
Happy global gifting! 🎁