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Top Tips for Building a Better Branded Merchandise Gift Basket

Organizations and individuals are working to express their appreciation for colleagues and customers who have contributed to their success. The challenge is:

how can you tell your brand story and express sincere thanks with a gift basket?

Two industry experts weigh-in with their thoughts on top trends, modern expectations, and creative interpretations, designed to help you find the right fit for your needs this fall.

Meet our industry experts

Jo-Ann Hammer, Genumark, promotional products industry

Jo-Ann Hammer is an account manager with Genumark, a leading promotional products distributor in Canada. For the past 20 years she has helped to guide buying decisions.

Danielle Dawson, NC Custom, promotional products industry

Danielle Dawson is Vice-President of Sales at NC Custom, a diversified manufacturer of 3,000+ items, ranging across confectionery, chocolate, health and beauty, wellness, merchandise and premium apparel.

How do you determine a good mix of products?

Gift baskets are a timeless and versatile way to express appreciation or strengthen a business relationship. By incorporating corporate branded merchandise into these gift baskets companies can elevate their gifting strategy and leave a lasting impression on recipients. When selecting the contents of the basket its important to opt for items that reflect your brand. Choose high quality, well made, durable items. Consider the practicality of the item and if it can be used in daily lives. If you can add a personal touch – even better! Personalization is key and shows thought was put into the gift! - Jo-Ann

If speaking on a basic sharable gift I suggest playing on the trend of sweet and salty snacks. Something for everyone. Keep your purchases to the highest food quality and trusted retail brands. We have also seen an increase in request for adding keepsake products to gift baskets, such as mugs, tumblers, candles and socks. - Danielle

package of goods custom box promotional products PCNA
A promotional products "gift basket"

Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes. Custom packaging is just another option for your "gift basket" creation.

Is a lot of small better than a single large item?

I’m a firm believer in Quality over Quantity. I personally prefer to create baskets or kits that have one quality stand out feature item that aligns with my clients brand or initiative. The central item should be strategic and impactful. For instance, it could be a tech gadget, stylish accessory or a luxurious selfcare item that speaks to the brand and the occasion. Surround the main item with smaller supporting gifts that compliment the main gift. These can be additional branded items or non-branded as long as they fit the theme. - Jo-Ann

Gift baskets are typically for sharing. A mix of smaller items is better for a shared experience. If we are customizing a gift we always ask, how many people are we trying to feed?. - Danielle

Would you rather a personal gift or something you can share?

  • A gift just for me!

  • Something I can share, please!

What is a design or gift trend you recommend?

Incorporating sustainability into your gift baskets is an emerging trend that resonates with many recipients. Eco friendly merchandise made from recycled materials, or bamboo based products are great sustainable options for any gift opportunity. When companies align their corporate brand with eco-conscious choices they demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility. - Jo-Ann

This is a great question to discuss the evolution of the gift basket. While the standard wicker basket is still requested we have seen a shift into request for more sustainable, customizable, interesting vessel types. For example, usng a cooler bag or tote bag as packaging. This then also makes the vessel itself part of the gift. With the rise in drop shipping we also pack many of our kits into fully custom mailer boxes. This gives a wider range for customization on the box itself, and reduces waste with needing another box to ship the gift. Having the gift arrive at the door step with the branding directly on the outer box makes a WOW impact on the receiver. - Danielle

Bow or no bow?

Including a bow on a gift basket depends on the overall aesthetic you are aiming for and the preferences of the recipients. Bows can add a classic and/or festive touch making them feel more celebratory. A well designed bow can enhance visual appeal. A branded ribbon or bow can reinforce the company logo or colours further promoting the brand.On the flip side - Omitting the bow can give a sleek and minimalistic design which may be a more modern or professional presentation. If the focus is sustainability, avoiding a bow reduces unnecessary waste. A bow-less approach can even draw attention to the branded merchandise itself, emphasizing the value and thoughtfulness of the items.- Jo-Ann

If you are going the traditional gift basket route with cello wrapping and not customizing each individual content, then a Bow or hang tag is a MUST. That is the only way you will get your company's branding on the gift. - Danielle

How do you feel about note cards?

Including a card with your corporate branded gift basket is a thoughtful gesture that adds a personal touch and enhances the recipient's experience. The card provides an opportunity to explain the purpose of the gift - whether it be a special occasion or a gesture of thanks. Adding a handwritten note or message creates a personal connection showing you took the time to individually and personally acknowledge them. A heartfelt message can leave a lasting impression, making the recipient more likely to remember and associate positive feelings with you and your company. Ultimately, including a card is a small investment that can have a big impact on how the gift is perceived and appreciated by the recipient. - Jo-Ann

A card gives your gift a more personal edge but, while handwritten notes are very impactful they can often be impractical in our industry when organizations are producing large quantities of gift sets. Rather than inserting a card I prefer the mailer box option and utilizing the inner label as the card itself. This decoration opportunity helps to save the customer some money and in the end is more sustainable with less waste.- Danielle mem

Discover more Gift Basket Ideas in past issues of marketingedge magazine, click here

The June 2023 edition of marketingedge magazine is available now, read free online.

- as featured in marketingedge magazine, September 2023



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