Corporate Gift Giving aRound the World
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A Global Perspective on Corporate Gift Giving

Corporate Gift-Giving Etiquette Around the World

Corporate gift-giving is different around the world.  The world is constantly changing and so is business. As more people are relocating for better jobs and more companies are expanding overseas to increase their revenue, one of the biggest challenges is adapting to the various cultures.
While there are many cultural aspects to consider, one thing often overlooked is gift-giving. There are some countries where you should offer gifts and others where a gift is considered to be a bribe. In addition, choosinggreat business gifts is also tricky because some gifts might be considered offensive in certain cultures.
Some multi-national companies and some governments have very strict policies regarding their employees accepting gifts. To avoid creating a problem, it’s imperative you learn the policies for the companies you do business with.
Many companies in countries such as Singapore, for example, have policies restricting the giving or accepting of gifts in an attempt to avoid any appearance of bribery. Other countries like Denmark will make you declare the value of a company’s gift to tax authorities if it surpasses a certain amount.  In Malaysia you wouldn’t give a gift until you had established a relationship with the person.  Therefore, you should be aware of corporate gift-giving etiquette around the world as an entrepreneur. After all, you need to make a good impression if you want your business to succeed abroad.
Always be aware of religious laws when selecting gifts. For instance, pork is prohibited in the Jewish and Muslim religions, so you wouldn’t select a gift made from pigskin. As in India, don’t offer a gift made from cowhide. Another prohibition for the Muslim faith is alcohol.

Corporate gift-giving etiquette in Japan

In Japan, corporate gift-giving is highly recommended and even expected. When making an initial visit or sales call, it is common to bring a small gift.  Usually,the gift itself is not as important as the ceremony . The Japanese people make an art of gift giving. Thus, you should use quality wrapping paper and present the gift with both hands to show respect. Make sure you don’t include sets of four or nine items in your gift. These numbers are unlucky in Japanese culture. Furthermore, the Japanese never open gifts before you, and you shouldn’t do that either.  Don't give a potted plant as a gift as it’s thought to encourage illness.Choosing the right gift depends on the rank of the receiver and the context . For instance, you should buy something a bit more expensive for a senior member of the company. You could opt for an elegant pen set, a pair of cuff links, or expensive imported scotch or bourbon. However, if you’re meeting with a group, you should offer gifts to everyone or nobody at all. For these cases,gift baskets are great corporate gifts . These can include gourmet foods or fruits. But make sure the contents are not identical because that’s considered impolite.
Large gourmet gift basket for family or office A gourmet gift basket that could be given as a gift in Japan

Corporate gift-giving etiquette in China

The Chinese people accept corporate gifts, and it’s common practice to reciprocate gifts. However, you should pay close attention to the presentation. Specifically, you should alwayswrap your gifts nicely and be careful with your chosen colors . You should know that black, white, and blue symbolize death and funerals. Instead, you can opt for lucky colors like gold and red or happy colors like yellow and pink. Furthermore, you should always offer gifts in pairs because the Chinese value balance and numbers but not is sets of four unless the gift is a set of two pairs.
Gifts that you should never give are knives, scissors, or letter openers, which may symbolize the severance of a relationship; clocks which represent sending into death, handkerchiefs, which are associated with crying and funerals.
When choosing a gift, make sure you don’t go overboard. Don’t buy something costly because you’ll make it harder for the other person to reciprocate. Since the Chinese are tea drinkers, you can offer them atea and snacks gift tray . Or, you can always opt for adried fruit and nut tray .
In any case, don’t feel offended if they don’t accept the gift immediately. In order not to appear greedy, a gift will not be immediately taken, but refused three times before finally being accepted. Each time it’s refused, you should continue to offer the gift. And once it’s taken, tell the person you’re happy it’s been accepted. The gift won’t be opened it front of you. It will be set aside and opened later. This tradition eliminates any concern that the recipient’s face might show any disappointment with the gift.
If you’re presented a gift, follow the same process of refusing it three times then accept it with both hands. You’ll also not open it, but wait until later.
Thank You Fruit and Nuts Tray A Thank You Fruit and Nuts Tray will be an acceptable gift in China.

Corporate gift-giving etiquette in Muslim countries

When learning about corporate gift-giving etiquette around the world, you should pay special attention to Muslim countries. The main reason for this is thatthere are many restrictions . For example, the Koran forbids alcohol. Therefore, you should never offer alcohol-based products such as beverages or perfume. You should also avoid foods containing shellfish, pork, bird, and other derivate products. Stay clear of artworks that illustrate nudes. In any case, make sure you do a lot of research on this topic because there are some countries, like Saudi Arabia, where you should only offer gifts to close friends or family members.
So, what constitutes an appropriate corporate gift in Muslim countries?You can never go wrong with edible products . Just remember to avoid the three forbidden ingredients. You can also opt for gift baskets containing sweets, cookies, and dried fruit. You can also choose a more formal gift, such as a business card holder or an organizer. If you have doubts about choosing the right gift, just invite your associates to a business lunch. However, make sure you pick a restaurant that doesn’t serve any forbidden foods and doesn’t offer alcohol.
In Muslim countries, edible products, such as sweets and cookies, make for the best gifts.

Corporate gift-giving etiquette in Western Europe

Exchanging corporate gifts is not common practice in Western Europe. That doesn’t mean they will consider it offensive. It’s just that they don’t expect it. Thus, you have no obligation to offer gifts. However, showing your appreciation every once in a while doesn’t hurt. That shows people how much you value your business relationship. For instance, you can offer gifts after closing big deals or celebrating significant company anniversaries. Choose high-quality products, but make sure you don’t spend too much. Costly gifts can be misinterpreted as bribes. So, stick with chocolates and liquors or a gourmet gift basket to be safe.

Do your homework on corporate gift-giving etiquette around the world

The truth is that every culture has its peculiarities. Therefore, if you’re planning on expanding your company overseas or moving abroad to advance your career, you should learn how to deal with culture shock. Specifically, it’s veryimportant to do research . That will help you prepare for what is to come. Learning the proper corporate gift-giving etiquettewill enable you to make a good impression and even contribute to closing big deals . So, you shouldn’t underestimate its importance. You should also get to know the people you’re doing business with. That will enable you to offer more personal gifts and show how much you care.

Final thoughts

Opening a branch office overseas or relocating for a great job is exciting. But at the same time, it can feel a bit overwhelming. You’ll likely find yourself in a culture that is entirely different from yours. That means that you have to find ways to adapt. As you can see from this brief guide on corporate gift-giving etiquette around the world, you should do a lot of research. Otherwise, you risk offending clients or business associates. And this isn't good for business. Not to mention that it can ruin your reputation.
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