Who Buys Corporate Gifts? How to (Finally) Understand Your Most Valuable Customers

June 28, 2024
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Your customers are more than just dollar signs stacking up in your company bank account.

They’re your greatest source of intel. They’re the rudder steering your brand’s ship. They have the power to thrust your ecommerce store into virality or stuff it into the forgotten corners of the world wide web. 

In short, your company lives or dies by your customers. 

Of course, this isn’t news to any savvy (or even amateur) store owner. There’s no shortage of customer data tools promising to dish out insight like what your shoppers are buying, where they’re clicking, and by connecting any number of dots across their journey with your company. The internet is stuffed with thousands of blog posts trying to help you gain clarity around the perfect customer so you can target them, sell to them, and effortlessly coast into a cushy retirement.

But until now, there’s a massive segment of ecommerce shoppers that have been notoriously hard to pin down and dissect: corporate gifters.

Having a deeper understanding of these customers and their journey with your brand is indispensable in drumming up loyalty, differentiating your store, and scaling your gifting channel to greater heights.

Why Are We Still Guessing About Corporate Gifting?

More corporate gifts are being sent than ever before. By the end of 2024, it’s a market expected to bust through the $306 billion threshold without losing a smidge of momentum. 

(Fun fact: That’s more than the revenue earned in 2023 by McDonald’s, Target, Tesla, Nike, and Taco Bell combined.)

Over the past few years, there’s been a mounting trend toward forging better, more intentional connections in Corporate America. Whether it’s a CEO gifting every team member in its hybrid workspace, sales reps sending holiday gifts to clients, or field marketers deploying prezzies to event attendees, corporate gifting has been on the up and up. 

But the branded stress balls of yore aren’t cutting it — gifters are seeking goodies with a bit more thought behind them, and that has people turning to their personal favorite brands to meet their gifting needs. After all, few people will remember a branded lanyard fondly, but most will love the experience of unboxing (and drinking) a bottle of wine with a personalized gift note. 

Roughly half of businesses are beefing up their corporate gifting budgets, so why are so few people talking about this eager audience?

If the silence around corporate gifting has surprised you, it should. After all, these are customers who want to:

  • buy a ton of your products.
  • get those products directly into the hands of potentially thousands of people.
  • place these massive orders as soon as they can.
  • come back again and again to place similarly gigantic orders. 

The internet is blessed with an endless stream of blogs and LinkedIn tips from ecommerce pros telling brands how to identify and capitalize on the typical direct-to-consumer buyer who’s come back and purchased from your store a few times. But when it comes to tips on how to win over repeat gifters?

Absolute crickets.

While there could be a few factors behind this oversight, there’s one undeniable hurdle holding brands back from homing in on this lucrative audience: it’s really, really hard to know who’s sending gifts, know why they’re sending gifts, and separate corporate gifters from the rest of your DTC customers.

Historically, the corporate gifting experience is a marathon, not a sprint. Someone who wants to send a corporate gift from your online shop has to scroll to the footer of your website, click the “Corporate Gifting” link, fill out a form for a quote, and wait for a response from a rep. Then the gifter and the rep embark on a weeks- or months-long journey to hammer out every detail, upload every recipient, and smooth out any possible wrinkle before deploying the gifts. 

On one hand, this has been the only surefire way for brands to know who’s sending their products as corporate gifts. On the other hand, it doesn’t account for gifters who have bypassed the back-and-forth and placed a bunch of single gift orders or one bulk order shipped to their office (or bypassed your shop altogether and settled on Amazon gift cards). 

Aside from 1) working very closely with a corporate client or 2) assuming that a large order for multiples of a product is a corporate gift, brands don’t have access to tools to help them understand this cohort of corporate customers like they do when it comes to their standard solo consumer. 

It’s 2024, which means it’s about darn time we get to know these high-value gifters a li’l bit better.

Digging up Insights About Corporate Gifters

When you’re running an online biz, nothing should be left up to guessing.

How much inventory you have in stock, lead times for reordering, conversion rate, repeat customer rate, email sequences, customer demographics, churn rate — all of it should be crystal clear so you continue to make informed decisions and grow your company as efficiently as possible.

The same stands true for your gifting channel. At Zest, we’ve been building the first and only corporate gifting platform that helps you understand who’s gifting, how much they’re gifting, what they’re gifting, and why they’re gifting. 

Instead of scrolling through your Shopify backend to assume who’s gifting or jumping over to your Google Drive to pore over lists or project folders from your corporate clients, Zest puts all your gifter details in one place that’s easy to navigate and distill valuable data.

Where does this treasure trove exist? Zest’s very own Customers tab. 

Whether you’re letting corporate clients take the self-service approach and automating the corporate gift process, or you’re managing many one-to-one concierge projects, Zest houses all of your gifters under one roof.

Zest’s Customers tab is like your personal crystal ball for corporate gifters that lets you:

  • Filter customers by unique tags, email, company, and names so it’s easier than ever to pinpoint individual gifters or groups or gifters.
  • Sort customers by gift order count, total gift spend, and more. 
  • Click into individual customers to see what they’ve gifted.
  • Read gift notes to understand the reason behind the gift.
  • Understand gifting behavior over all time or during specific timespans. 
  • See each gifter’s path to purchase, e.g., did they come in via your Main Storefront, a Private Storefront, or a Concierge Order.
Filter by company name, tags, send, and more for easy breezy visibility and understanding.

Unlike a traditional corporate gifting marketplace, Zest was made to give ecommerce brands the tools to scale their corporate gifting channel directly from their website. A big part of this goal means giving brands the ability to own the relationship between them and their corporate customers.  

Gifting marketplaces are a great option for building brand awareness and gaining visibility with corporate gifters en masse. However, when a brand puts their giftable products in a marketplace, it’s important to consider some potential tradeoffs.

  1. Products are positioned between competitors’ products.
  2. Gifting marketplaces usually take a cut from every sale, reducing margins. 
  3. The shopping experience isn’t aligned with the brand’s experience.
  4. Most importantly, the marketplace owns the customer info and relationship.

Aside from ensuring corporate gifters have an experience as simple and streamlined as shopping for themselves on a brand’s website, Zest also makes it possible for brands to own all the info so they can continue to build an authentic relationship with each corporate customer. 

Gone are the dystopian days of piecing together disparate Google docs and spreadsheets and Shopify orders (that may or may not be gifts) and trying to make sure everything is up to date. It’s time you usher in the only gifting platform built to help you (and not third-party marketplaces) grow through gifting.

Leveraging Your Intel to Scale Your Gifting Channel

What can you do with your newfound corporate gifter intel when you team with Zest? 

Use this data to pinpoint your most loyal customers, re-engage your highest spenders, get a feel for your store’s unique trends, uncover the “why” behind your biggest orders (so you can drive more of those), and more.

Having the ability to access and filter all corporate gifting customers by date of purchase, unique tags you apply, order count, total gift spend, and beyond opens up a world of personalized marketing that wasn’t available before.

Pssst! If you also happen to use Klaviyo as your email marketing platform, Zest’s direct integration can automate a hyper-targeted post-purchase experience to stoke loyalty and boost repeat gifting.

Imagine the stuff finally made possible with crystal clear corporate gifter data:

  • Start up a rewards program once gifters cross $1000, $2000, or $5000 thresholds.
  • Encourage holiday gifting with volume discounts sent specifically to your corporate customers.
  • Target repeat gifters with referral bonuses when they recommend your store to another corporate gifter at another company.
  • Surprise and delight gifters on their gifting anniversaries.
  • Track gifting trends and optimize your gift catalog to capitalize on why and when corporate clients send gifts.
  • Ask your corporate gifters for reviews so you can create case studies or successfully pitch other companies using positive experiences as proof. 

These are all marketing best practices in the DTC ecommerce world, but with the capabilities built by Zest, there’s no reason these same principles can’t be applied to your most valuable customers: corporate gifters. 

Since Milk Bar knows who's gifting, they can send a highly targeted incentive to stoke purchases.

Your Corporate Gifter Crystal Ball Is Waiting for You

Your customers are the most important part of your business, and now you have the tools at your fingertips to understand — and make the best decisions for — your corporate gifters as well as your DTC shoppers.

This one li’l tab is enough to help you build a solid strategy around your gifters at scale. Automate highly personalized campaigns around when people send a gift, how many gifts they’ve sent, how much they’ve spent, and beyond to show your appreciation, offer incentives, and craft a genuine relationship with each of them.

Corporate gifting is only growing, which means if you’re slinging especially giftable products, expect a wave of gifters to come pounding down your door. With Zest in your tech stack, you can finally own all of that corporate gifter info gold in one easily accessible place and build a smart marketing scaffolding around it in time for the holiday rush.

So, finally wipe away the haze and gaze into your very own corporate gifter crystal ball. 🔮

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Liz Lorge
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