Are excessive regulations hampering corporate gift giving?

Even though gift giving was very much on the cards as far as smaller businesses was concerned, on the flip side of the more and more complex gift equation, many SME owners increasingly found themselves in a tricky gift-giving conundrum, trying to find out if the $25 dollar price-point for a corporate present is adequate.

How could a vendor aptly express thank you to one of his important clients, with let us say, a flimsy keychain? And what if the gift item, which one thought was indeed well intentioned, went over budget or was not in compliance with tight rules and was returned to sender?
As a result, a section of wary business owners opted out of the gift giving process all together, simply turned off by frequent compliance crackdowns and the oft-changing, finicky do’s and don’ts, an article in The CNBC by Erin Horan) observed.

For example, co-owner of a Manhattan-based small branding company (called Parham Santana), Maruchi Santana, this year did just that. The entrepreneur couple running their business close to three decades, had sent holiday gifts to many of their imporatnt Fortune 500 clients like Wal-Mart and Mattel for last many year. But the two gave up on the idea this holiday season.

The reasoning given was: “Time is money! We did bought our major clients handpicked gifts from sources like Tiffany’s. We would pen personal notes, visit trade shows, send exclusive gifts to executives and assistants! We loved to do more, but it became a full-time job to stay updated with industry rules.” Instead, the pair then opted to donate the money that they would have allocated on gifts to charities in many of their clients’ names. The decision was an outcome of increased gift returns and extreme compliance regulations. In this backdrop, giving donations to vetted charities was a more rewarding alternative that the clients increasingly prefer.

Everything tends to changes over time, another small business owner quipped. “And you as a business owner must be in touch with the changing industry and societal scenarios.” The gifting industry is fast realizing this. It remains to be seen how it tackles with the challenges in 2013.

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