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Personalization, Customization Among Corporate Gift Trends

Companies are showering their employees, clients, and partners with year-end corporate gifts that increasingly include some level of customization or personalization, according to specialty food companies polled by SFA News Daily.

“Our holiday time continues to be our busiest,” said Shira Schwartz, marketing manager at Zola Bakes, which is known for its colorful rainbow cookies. “Our custom holiday boxes with decorations are always a favorite, but we are seeing more individuals, corporations and businesses order custom-colored cookie boxes with special notes and stickers.”

She said the company has had its holiday boxes listed on its website for pre-order since September, and it also sent emails to its corporate clients and businesses in September. 

Edward Panchernikov, general manager at Caviar Russe, an upscale restaurant and caviar emporium in New York and Miami, said the company has doubled its budget to support corporate gifting this year.

“Demand is high,” he said. “Luxury brands are leaning toward customer experiences, including gifting.”

Panchernikov agreed that personalization is a key trend, and Caviar Russe seeks to support the personalization of gifts by allowing customers to customize certain elements of the products’ packaging, such as ribbons.

Greg Sarley, senior vice president of merchandising at gifting specialist Harry & David, said Harry & David’s parent company, 1-800 Flowers, this year introduced a new solution that helps its corporate customers personalize their gifts. Called SmartGift for Business, the tool allows companies to introduce more customization and personalization into their gift-giving and also provides the ability to automate orders and track performance, among other functionalities.

Overall, Sarley said the company is seeing customers gravitate toward bakery sweets and confection items this year for corporate gifts.

“Those categories are seeing significant increases versus this time last year,” he said, noting that the company’s club business, led by its Fruit of the Month Club, is also up this year.

“Organizations want their clients and customers to remember them, and a club is a great way each month to keep them at the top of their mind,” Sarley said.

He also said Harry & David has seen business customers gravitating toward gifts at both the high end and low end in terms of price points.

“We are prepared for just about any scenario,” Sarley said, citing the company’s broad gift assortment.

That assortment is bolstered by this year’s strong pear crop, he said, noting that Harry & David is known for its fresh pear gift boxes.

Wellness, Sustainability On Trend

Some companies said they are also seeing a trend toward wellness and sustainability in corporate gift-giving this year.

“We feel clients will continue to focus on gifts that speak to self-care and also leaning towards options that are locally sourced and more sustainable,” said Lisle Richards, founder of Isle of Us, a specialty food market and restaurant in New York.

He said he believes business clients will be price-conscious this year, which has prompted the company to offer gift sets in a range of prices. Isle of Us, which opened last year on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, promotes “provisions boxes” of house-made pantry items as gifts.

“We look forward to accommodating our corporate clients and working with them to fit any and all budgets and client needs,” said Richards.

Oded Brenner, founder of Blue Stripes Cacao, said he thinks wellness will be top of mind for many corporate gift-givers this year. Blue Stripes seeks to create healthy food products such as granola that use the entire cacao fruit—seeds, pulp, and shell—as a vehicle for reducing the waste that is often generated in chocolate production.

“Since the holidays are typically about indulging and drinking, brands are looking for healthier options that contribute to total body wellness, including mental health,” said Brenner.

He said the company seeks to have its cacao “care boxes” available ahead of the holiday rush to ensure it is prepared, and noted that the gift-giving season for wellness products often extends into the new year.

“We have seen an increase in sales spikes after the holidays and around New Year’s as well,” said Brenner.

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