The 4 Worst Business Gift Mistakes

Gifting survey reveals what recipients don’t want to receive
Giving business gifts can be a positive experience, not only for the person or people receiving the gift, but also for the giver.  It’s a tried-and-true, relationship-building technique that allows you to thank your clients for their business, honor major milestones, and celebrate the holidays. Some gifts can go awry, however, doing more harm than good.
The “2019 Business Gift Satisfaction” report by Knack surveyed 1049 individuals who had received a business gift within the last year and revealed that over 70% of respondents experienced negative feelings, at least once, after receiving a gift from an outside business.  So, if you’re thinking of sending a gift, read on to discover four gift giving mistakes you should avoid, so that your recipients will have the best possible experience.


1. Don’t be thoughtless

Of the people surveyed, 28% experienced negative feelings about the gift they received because it was clear the giver didn’t put much thought into the gift.  Those ubiquitous tins of popcorn lying around the office don’t exactly inspire whoops of joy and gratitude.  Think about the individual or team receiving the gift.  What would they really enjoy?  For example, with the holidays arriving soon, consider giving different chocolates from around the world, so that people can share and compare. Or, if they’ve celebrated a major milestone recently, perhaps the gift can be a celebratory bottle of champagne or a commemorative plaque to hang on the wall.


2. Don’t be cheap

Twenty-one percent of recipients reported that their negative experience was due to the gift being cheap.  Rather than feeling appreciated, cheap gifts have the opposite effect.  You’re better off not spending any money at all than sending something that obviously didn’t involve some investment and consideration.  Swag with your own logo on it can be one of the worst offenders, because everyone knows you have hundreds of t-shirts, pens, and water bottles lying around in storage. Aim for quality, which may cost you a bit more but will be much more appreciated in the end.

3. Don’t be generic

Nineteen percent of those surveyed indicated that they experienced negative feelings both as a result of simply not liking the gift, and knowing that the gift wasn’t remotely relevant to them.  These complaints are really two sides of the same coin.  If you know anything about your recipient’s hobbies, you can select a gift that they will appreciate.  Avid traveler?  How about a nice travel bag? Wine enthusiast?  It’s hard to go wrong with a couple of bottles of quality wine, or a gorgeous decanter.


4. Don’t be boring

Fifteen percent of recipients were actually irritated that they had to choose their own gift. People often think gift cards are a great solution because they allow the recipient to get whatever they want. This can backfire, however, because a gift card commits all three of the previously mentioned sins: it’s impersonal, it’s generic and it feels cheap.
As this hierarchy map demonstrates, the factor which most positively influences a recipient’s opinion of a business gift is the thought that went into the gift.


As a giver of business gifts, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impression. Take it one step further and make sure your recipients feel truly appreciated.  The purpose of a gift is to celebrate your business relationship.  By avoiding these four pitfalls, and you can not only make a positive impression, but you can also benefit by increased loyalty and connectedness to your company and brand.

Knack’s “Business Gift Satisfaction” report×3-inch