Gifting Guidance

By Laura Bickle

If merchandise and gift cards are part of your recognition and incentive program, The Incentive Research Foundation’s Industry Outlook for 2023: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting provides some useful intel. In a webinar to dig deeper into the findings, panelist John Crisci, president and founder of Global Gifting, lent this insight on the current state of the business: “In 2022, people had a lot of money to spend from the years prior. Now it's transitioning to more stabilized spending…. And so far, the amount of RFPs has increased. From the supply chain side, I think everyone's pretty well caught up now….Pretty much everything is readily available for the most part.”

Among the highlights from the study:

Program Cancellations: The percentage of North American companies that cancelled their gift card/merchandise programs decreased from 44% in 2021 to 37% in 2022.

Inflation considerations: 50% of respondents believed high inflation increases the value of non-cash incentives. While a $50 card may not buy as much as it did previously, it is still welcome when discretionary spending is more limited.

Program Design: 86% of respondents said a company’s financial forecast is the most prominent consideration for the design and influence of North American incentive programs. The perception of internal stakeholders was close second, followed by public perception and competitor programs.

Money Matters: The average per-person spend 2022 was $1,060, up from $806 in 2021. 58% of companies spent more than $250 per person, compared to 51% in 2021. The average value of a North American merchandise reward was $191, up from $152 in 2021. The median gift card amount was $100. 55% average $100 or less.

Swag Specifics: In North America, apparel (66%), logoed brand merchandise (56%) and food gifts (53%) have the highest prevalence.

other articles in this section

Banff, Alberta

Incentive Travel Insights

Gifting Guidance

The Renaissance of Incentive Travel

Promotional products your attendees will love. Really.

Incentive Research in Action

History in the Making

Mindful Indulgences

Dynamic Duos

Status Report

Editor's Choice: 6 Springtime Gifts

Warm up to Winter Ski Incentives

Set to Impress

Expert Tips for Virtual Incentive Events

Party Pivots

Presents of Mind: The Art of Virtual Gifting

A Rewarding Experience

Noteworthy: Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda

Cards vs. Cash

Good Times

Value Validation

Trip Trends

Sailing Away

The More, The Merrier

Holiday Angst

Making the Connection

Make an Impact

Mutual Appreciation

Healthy Options for Incentive Trips

A Rewarding Experience

Cruising the Rhone River

Celebrating Employee Milestones

How Do they Do It

Eyes on the Prize

Healthy employees = Healthy company

Measuring ROI

Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida

Good Sensations

How to Design an Effective Gift Card Incentive Program

Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, Newfoundland

The Case for including Spouses on Incentive Trips

Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

On-site Gifting

Rim to River Hiking in the Grand Canyon

Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon, BC

Creating incentive trips that appeal to everyone

The Brave New World of Gift Cards

Award Show Winners

Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina

Take me to the river

Click + Praise

The Science of Incentives

Incentive trips go family-style

Knock-their-socks-off gifts for hard-to-buy-for executives

Building a Better Program

Perfect Pampering

Indulge Me!

Customized Recognition Programs

Virtual gift cards, the new reality

Gift Cards that Give

Go with a Pro, in the Spa and on the Greens

Chartering private jets

Offsite Employee Engagement

Behaviour-based Recognition

Canadian tax implications for employee gifts

A Christmas Bonus with all the Fixin's!

Peer-to-peer recognition

Everyday Green Heroes

Recognizing Environmental Actions in the Workplace

Reward and Recognize Every Day!

New Year, New You!

Co-Branded Cards

Last-minute gifts and rewards

Double Pampering Hits the Spot!

Hidden Gems: Cobble Beach Resort


Free and Fab Employee Rewards

Incentive Programs Used by the Pros

Think Local for Corporate Gifts

21st Century Gift Cards

Time for an Incentive Travel Update

Reward Best-Practices for the Holiday Season

Small Product, Big Impact

Spa Rewards, Done Right

Staying Motivated

Gift Giving Guidelines

The Pros and Cons of Gift Cards

Eco-Friendly Corporate Gift Ideas

Green Guides

Travel Rewards Strategy

Speaker Gifts that Shine with Gratitude

Tax Treatment of Incentive Travel