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Are business Christmas gifts going to waste?

Andrew Colley
Smarter Writer

Andrew Colley has written about technology, business and media for over a decade - nine years on a national newspaper

Andrew Colley
Smarter Writer

Andrew Colley has written about technology, business and media for over a decade - nine years on a national newspaper

Environmental conservation groups urge you to re-think your choice of business gifts this year. So, what options other than the stock standard promotional presents can you send to clients and partners?

Jon Dee, environmental activist and founder of DoSomething! said that companies risk damaging their reputations if they send token gifts that probably won’t even be used. Some corporate gifts given around the Christmas period simply no longer make any sense. He suggests more philanthropic means of impressing clients.    

“People still send diaries with logos on them in a world of smartphones – it’s highly unlikely that they will ever get used. If anything, it shows a lack of imagination from the company about how they relate to their customer base,” believes Jon.     

Christmas corporate gifts waste

Gift givers need to think outside the box

Anthony O’Brien writes in the publication Professional Planner, “Too often, businesses get the promotional giveaway wrong.” And when it doesn’t strike the right chord it can end up forgotten. “The trouble is that most of this corporate flotsam ends up in the dustbin,” says Anthony.    

Companies may have to foster better relations with their clients and other stakeholders by donating to charities on their behalf.

"It has a lot more value to it, it has no environmental impact and it has very positive social benefits,” says Jon. 

Are corporate Christmas gifts a waste?

It’s not clear what proportion of corporate gifts produced end up in landfill from Australia’s promotional product industry. However, the latest National Waste Report published by the Department of the Environment and Energy found that commercial and industrial waste was trending upward and this was placing a greater burden on the recycling system.

William Kestin, chief executive of the Australasian Promotional Products Association (APPA) said that industry was conscious of its civic responsibility to minimise waste but disputed suggestions that most executive gifts end up in the ground.

“The reach and the recall of promotional products suggests that people do hold on to corporate products and gifts for a longer period of time than most people anticipate so less ends up in landfill than people automatically perceive,” says William.

APPA surveyed executives who had received a corporate gift, revealing that 50 per cent of them used it daily and 55 per cent report hanging on to the gift for more than a year. More than 75 per cent recalled the name of the product the gift was intended to advertise.    

Are experiences more coveted than items?

Many companies are still paying for gifts that their stakeholders neither want nor need says Tamara DiMattina, creator of a start-up that champions experiences over product consumption. The New Joneses sells tickets, massages and day trips rather than conventional physical executive gratuities.

“We promote new form of consumption – a lifestyle that’s better for us, our wallets, our people and planet. All our reading shows that greater, more lasting happiness comes from experiences over things,” says Tamara.

 

*Originally published November 30th, 2015. Updated November 23rd, 2018.    

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