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Giving (business) gifts in other cultures

Although giving a gift or business gifts is a universal concept, there are differences worldwide when it comes to giving gifts and business gifts. Did you know, for example, that giving a Christmas gift is not a tradition in every country? To strengthen the relationship with your customers, it is important to understand the local customs and traditions for giving and receiving (business) gifts. Let’s look into some, in this blog:

The differences within European countries

Promotional gifts are a powerful tool to build brand awareness and loyalty in Europe, but navigating cultural nuances is key. Here’s a glimpse into how promotional gifting can differ across the continent:

  • In Germany they value practicality and good quality products. For a long time, matches competed with pens in this country, but this has declined sharply since the introduction of the ‘No Smoking Protection Act’.
  • In Austria, coffee filters with a logo were extremely popular as a promotional item in the 70’s and 80’s as a reference to the coffee culture that was exuberantly celebrated there. Nowadays, not coffee filters, but waffles are very popular as gifts in this country.
  • Switzerland is known for its cheese culture! Think of nice cheese products, such as a cheese board or a good set of knives.
  • In France it is a tradition to offer a bottle of wine for all kinds of occasions. The French value elegance and sophistication as sleek pens. In this country the ‘4 color BIC pen’ is also very popular as a business gift because it brings back memories of youth.
  • Italians appreciate beauty and craftsmanship.  Locally made leather goods, like wallets or phone cases, can be a thoughtful choice.  Food items and baskets are also well-received, but ensure they complement your brand image.
  • The United Kingdom has seen a large increase in demand for sustainable products. The British value tradition and practicality; vests, clothing and notebooks are very popular here.
  • Sweden loves bucket hats, rubber ducks and hand fans during wedding season. In addition, flower seeds are very popular, specifically from plants from Swedish biodiversity. And board games such as Jenga do well here as promotional gifts.

The traditions in Asia for giving (business) gifts

Promotional gifts play a significant role in business interactions across Asia, where cultural nuances shape preferences and perceptions. They are not only a way to build relationships but also to show respect and the diverse cultures in Asian countries require a nuanced approach to promotional gifts. Here are insight from some East Asian countries:

  • Japanese culture embraces minimalism and aesthetics, and gifts are a symbol of respect and appreciation. Go for high-quality, elegant items such as traditional tea sets, nice tech accessories or artisanal sweets.
  • In China, think symbolism and etiquette. Choose gifts that symbolise prosperity and good fortune and remember that the colour red symbolises good luck. Avoid items associated with the number four, which is considered unlucky.
  • In India, personal connections are valued. Consider gifts that reflect local craftsmanship and traditions, such as handwoven textiles. Be mindful of cultural sensitivities, avoiding items made from leather or beef-related products as cows are considered sacred in Hinduism.
  • South Koreas tech-savvy population appreciates practicality and innovation. Branded wireless earbuds, phone stands, or portable chargers with cute and trendy designs will be a hit. Koreans are also increasingly environmentally conscious, so consider eco-friendly options.

Gifting across the globe

The art of gift-giving is a universal tradition, but as we have seen the customs can vary greatly across cultures.  It is important to be aware of these, you may have employees in other markets, or different cultures in your own team. Here are some key things to consider when giving a gift in another country:

  • Research:  A little research goes a long way.  Is there a specific colour associated with mourning in the recipient’s culture? A seemingly harmless pen in red ink might be a symbol of bad luck in some countries. Are there certain numbers considered unlucky? Understanding these nuances shows respect.
  • Be considerate:  Consider sourcing your promotional gifts from local artisans or companies in the target market. This shows respect for local culture and supports the community.
  • Practicality: While a flashy phone case might grab attention in your home country, it might not translate well elsewhere. Give practical gifts that people will use, like reusable water bottles or phone chargers.
  • Personalisation:  A small touch of personalization goes a long way.  Consider adding a local language greeting to your packaging or offering the option to customize a product with a name or initials.

In conclusion, understanding and respecting cultural differences can significantly enhance your business relationships across the globe. By taking the time to research and choose appropriate (business) gifts, you not only demonstrate respect and appreciation but also create meaningful connections with your international partners and employees.

Would you like us to help you create the right promotional gift? The IGO Promo team is happy to help you with this!

By | 2024-06-26T07:51:20+00:00 19 June 2024|