Business Gifts: Pros and Cons of Holiday Food Gifts
Who wouldn't want a delicious food gift from a business for the holidays? Well, it depends on who's the intended recipient. What may be delicious to one, may be deadly or offensive to another.
Here are some common reasons why holiday food gifts may be declined or trashed:
- Allergies. Allergies to nuts, dairy products, chocolate and gluten can wipe out a wide swath of common food gifts including candy and cookies which are commonly used for holiday giving. Those with the most severe allergies could experience a serious, even deadly, reaction from unknowingly eating the wrong things.
- Diets. It's common for people to indulge their sweet tooth over the holidays and then set a New Year's resolution to shed the packed on pounds. But some folks may even "be good" and shun a holiday sugar or fat overload.
- Disease. In addition to allergies, the list of diseases that can be aggravated by eating the wrong foods is legion, everything from arthritis to zits.
- Philosophy. This group would include those who practice vegetarian, vegan, organic, environmentally friendly or socially responsible lifestyles. For example, those who are trying to be more socially responsible may only wish to eat fair trade chocolate.
- Religion. Giving certain meats or other prohibited foods to kosher-observing Jewish recipients is just in poor taste (taste pun intended). Also be aware that Jewish communities are not the only ones with religious diet restrictions.
- Expired Shelf Life. Many promotional candy items have a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months if stored properly and then they need to be trashed. However, some can expire in only a few days! Others may require special handling or refrigeration. ALWAYS check with your promotional product distributor on shelf life of the food item being purchased and discard them when that date arrives to avoid giving bad food to customers.
It is even more interesting to note that according to the Advertising Specialty Institute State of the Industry/Product Matrix reports from 2013 to 2014, food gifts dropped from 2.2 percent market share of revenues to 1.5 percent—a 32 percent drop—in just one year's time. There may be many explanations for this including cost of food gifts. However, the health and preference issues discussed above that often get media attention cannot be discounted as a contributing cause.
But the BIG no-no for food gifts for business? NEVER make them yourself! Too much liability!
But the BIG no-no for food gifts for business? NEVER make them yourself! Too much liability!— Heidi Thorne
Alternatives to Consider When Food is NOT Appropriate
Giving the wrong type of food gift can also hurt the company's brand. So what should a business who wants to "treat" their customers do?
- Know Customers' Concerns and Sensitivities. A thorough understanding of the business' market demographics should make some of these issues obvious ones to avoid. But if not, err on the side of caution and make an alternate gifting choice.
- Non-Food Options. Selecting non-food gifts may be a safer alternative for customer groups that are known to have serious or widely varying sensitivities and preferences.
- Let THEM Decide. Retail gift cards or debit cards can let customers decide what's right for them.
When Holiday Food Gifts Might be Appropriate...
For markets that are not sensitive as those discussed earlier, holiday food gifts can actually be an economical choice. Here's why:
- Sharing. One larger gift or gift basket given to a business or other group is often shared. This reduces the cost of purchasing and shipping individual gifts.
- Repeat Performance. Consumable food gifts can usually be given multiple times with little rejection. Some recipients even look forward to the annual treats!
- 2-in-1 Gifts. If packaged in a reusable container, the gift can be enjoyed during the holidays and throughout the entire year.
Disclaimer: Any examples or references used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2014 Heidi Thorne