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Tiffany smiles as brands seek to impress luxury credentials

Tiffany smiles as brands seek to impress luxury credentials

Jewelery retailer steps up the marketing of its corporate gift range as brands seek a classier point of difference.

August 18, 2008 8:06 by

Mansi Shah

Traditionally, corporate gifting has been the domain of unimaginative and low-budget giveaways. Often sneered at for their cheapness, these giveaways range from t-shirts, caps, pens and key chains to marginally more useful items like diaries and flash drives. These “gifts” have been favored by companies looking to build a relationship with their clients without breaking the bank.

For most of the freebies, however, the journey from packaging to the trash bin is swift. Very few make it to the prized place on an executive’s desk to serve as a constant reminder of the company that bestowed them. And even fewer create any brand recall.

But this trend of below-par baubles seems to be giving way to a more exclusive – and unabashedly expensive – range of corporate gifts. With brands like Tiffany & Co. stepping into the business, the corporate gifting scene has turned up the glamour a couple of notches.

This is evident in the clink of glasses and gasps of greedy delight as guests paw the trinkets on display at Business Decisions 2008 – Corporate Gifting Ideas, an exhibition hosted by Tiffany’s at the Monarch hotel in Dubai. The event showcases a premium range of corporate gifts designed to impress even the most impassive observer.

Glamorous but delicate jewelry nestles beside designer cufflinks and posh-looking wallets, flanked by ornate crystal and silverware. It’s clear the world of corporate gifting is going upscale. And it’s going to need budgets with a couple more zeroes at the end.

“For the business life, gifting is very important. Business is developing and relationships between clients, partners and colleagues are changing. To express their appreciation or communicate their thanks, they give gifts,” says Irina Belozerskaya, head of corporate sales of Tiffany & Co. “The aim of this exhibition was to announce that at Tiffany’s, we have a huge choice for corporate gifts. We can meet any requirement, and satisfy a client even with a budget of Dh150.” (She explains that although a Dh230 pen is the cheapest offering in Tiffany’s corporate gifts range, bulk discounts can drive this cost down.)

FANCY A DATE? Tiffany’s is not the only company catering to this segment. Bateel, a confectioner known best for its dates, is another brand keen to be perceived as a premium gift offering. “In this premium segment, companies ask for us,” says Vivek Sharma, Bateel’s deputy general manager of sales and marketing. “The market size for premium gifting was very small before. But it has witness unprecedented growth recently.

“Gifting has different forms,” he continues. “The mass market has pens, calendars and diaries, but the premium market is more exclusive. Real estate, banking and even PR and IT companies are becoming very aggressive in their approach.”

Rivoli Gifts recently opened its first store in Dubai’s Souk Al Bahar, specifically to serve the premium-gifting segment. The items on its shelves might be pricier than a company t-shirt, but they are not necessarily only for the rich. “The price range is completely dependent on the product category of the gifts,” says Vineet Kapila, marketing director at Rivoli group. “It can range from Dh500 to Dh25,000.” They may be clichéd but designer watches and pens from brands like Krone and Mont Blanc are among the more popular premium gifts, he says.

Glen Menezes, event manager of Channels Exhibitions, which organizes the Gifts and Premium show in Dubai, says, “It is an interesting market. There is room for the mass market – the regular gifts of caps, pens and mouse pads – for clients who only want to spend a small amount. That’s one aspect. Premium corporate gifting is another aspect.”

Property developers are leading this charge, says Menezes. “This can be attributed to the real estate boom,” he continues. “If you buy a property for Dh500,000 from a developer, he obviously has a budget of Dh500-600 to gift his client. So, the budgets are increasing dramatically. The banking sector is now giving Mont Blanc pens, which cost Dh800 to Dh1,000.

“With corporate gifting it is important that you add value,” he continues. For example, the more often you send out gifts – particularly at times when other companies are unlikely to be sending them out too, so not during Eid and other festivals – the greater the effect.

In 2007, the show had 100 exhibitors and its organizers expect it to double its size in 2008. While a quarter of the show’s visitors expressed an interest in corporate gifts and incentives, 15 percent were interested in designer, luxury and premium gifts.

Clearly, premium gifting is a trend that is here to stay. Companies just need to dig a little deeper into their freebie designer wallets.

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