Elevation by association: Boost your brand perception with premium gifting

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Roshni Patel

Chosen thoughtfully, corporate gifts offer a quick and cost-effective way for companies to make clients and employees feel valued and appreciated. 

The right gift brings instant joy to its recipient – and has lasting aftereffects, too. The gift becomes forever associated, in that person’s mind, with the business that gave it to them. It elevates their perception of the brand, locking in positive memories that lead to increased loyalty and improved relationships. 

In short: make someone’s day and they’ll remember it. 

And as scientific research shows, if a gift has an experiential aspect to it, it’ll be all the more impactful. A gift card is the perfect example of this. Whether physical or digital, the card itself is not the gift being given. What’s really being offered is an experience: fun, indulgent and guilt-free shopping, followed by the enjoyment of the products purchased. 

This extended experience – uniquely personal to each giftee – will be forever associated with the company that made it happen.

But don’t just take our word for it.

Delight your giftees, elevate your brand

To discover the extent to which gift cards can improve perceptions of the brands that offer them, we recently surveyed 1,000 members of the British public, across all ages and backgrounds. This research unearthed some interesting insights around gifting preferences and perceptions. 

  • The largest cohort of respondents (44.2%) said they’d prefer to receive a premium gift card over the equivalent amount in cash.
  • 62.5% agreed that receiving a gift card for a premium brand would feel more like a ‘treat’ than receiving the same amount in cash.
  • 91.3% said they’d be more likely to remember receiving a gift card over money towards a future purchase. 

Most people, then, would prefer to receive a gift card over the equivalent amount in cash. And they’re also more likely to remember receiving a gift card than cash or a discount.

Why? Because receiving a gift card feels special and unexpected. It represents the promise of a ‘treat’ in the not-too-distant future. It demands that the giftee spoil themselves with something they may not otherwise buy, in a way that cash does not. Cash has a tendency to vanish through expenditure on life’s less-than-thrilling essentials.  

However, not all gift cards are created equal in this regard. If the gift card is sourced from a retailer considered to be less-than-premium, it won’t have the same effect. In other words, if that retailer isn’t synonymous with high-quality treats, a giftee is unlikely to feel like they’ve been directed to go out and treat themselves. Instead, they’ve been given a bluntly transactional spending tool, akin to cash. Useful, perhaps – but also impersonal and a little thoughtless. 

Returning to our recent survey of 1,000 Britons:

  •  71% say that receiving a gift card for a premium brand would positively impact their opinion of the company that gifted them.
  • 70% would prefer to receive a gift card from a retailer with a good reputation for sustainability and fair working practices. 

So when it comes to forging positive associations between your clients or colleagues and your business, any-old-gift-card won’t do. Giftees want to feel like they’ve been given free access to something ‘premium’ that they might not otherwise buy themselves. Alongside that, they’d prefer to feel guilt-free about using their gift card; to not feel like they’re supporting a business known for dubious operating practices. 

The amount on the gift card? Interestingly, when it comes to elevating perceptions of your brand, that’s not as important as you might think. A scientific study found that gift-givers believe there’s a direct link between how much their gift cost and how ‘thoughtful’ it’s viewed as being. However, gift-recipients reported no correlation between the cost of a gift and how much they appreciated it.

So while a gift card sourced from a premium retailer is essential, a sky-high denomination is not. Your giftees genuinely appreciate the thought – alongside the promise of a ‘treat’ – and that’s what’s going to create the positive association you’re after.    

Having said that, you obviously want your recipients’ gift cards to provide them with a decent level of spending power; to hit that sweet spot between the affordable and the aspirational, and provide them with a fun shopping experience they’ll long remember. 

Even at relatively low denominations, M&S Gift Cards can achieve that. M&S is known for accessible luxury: premium products that cost a little more, but not the earth. And whether you’re buying for colleagues or clients, their opinion of M&S Gift Cards is likely to be the same. To go back to our survey: 

  • In terms of gifting for colleagues: 77.7% of respondents say that they’d feel ‘truly valued’ or ‘thoughtfully rewarded’ if they received an M&S Gift Card from their employer.
  • In terms of gifting for clients: 80.1% say they’d feel ‘truly delighted’ or ‘genuinely appreciated’ if they received an M&S Gift Card as part of a company’s promotional activities.

Improving perceptions of your business through gifting? It’s easy when you know how – and who to partner with.

Read our full report – shaped by our survey of 1,000 UK consumers – on the true impact of corporate gifting.