corporate gift merchandise

It is critically important to be aware of corporate gift merchandise etiquette and norms when gifting internationally, as different cultures have different norms and mores… Here is a listing of some of the more obvious:

Asia corporate gift merchandise Etiquette (China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand)

• When presenting or receiving a gift, use both hands.
• Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
• Avoid giving the Chinese gifts, which the majority color is white, black or blue. The colors are associated with death in Chinese culture.
• When wrapping gifts, keep these colors in mind.
• Red, a lucky color
• Pink and yellow are happy and prosperous

• Gifts are not opened in front of the giver.
• Don’t wrap gifts in white or black, which are considered unlucky colors. Green, red, and yellow are lucky colors.
• Avoid giving frangipani blossoms, as they are associated with funerals.
• Muslims consider dogs unclean. Do not give gifts with pictures of dogs or toy dogs to Indian Muslims.
• If you decide to give money, make the amount an odd number. It is usually done so by adding a single dollar to the amount (i.e. $11 instead of $10).

• Usually, the Japanese do not open the gifts directly upon receiving them. If they do, they may be restrained in their appreciation. This does not mean they do not like the gift, rather a humble reaction to your giving.
• When possible, try to wrap your gifts in Japan or have them wrapped by hotel or store services that know the proper and tasteful papers to use. Black or white colored paper is not acceptable. Rice paper is always a safe choice.
• Avoid gifts with even numbers of components. The number four is an unfavorable number. Never give four of anything.

• Gifts are given between friends. Do not give gift to anyone before you have established a personal relationship with that person. May be seen as a bribe if there is no relationship.
• Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.

South Korea:
• Good business gifts to give are impersonal products with your company logo on them. Make sure the product is not made in Korea or Japan.
• Liquor may be given as a gift, but only to men never women.

• Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
• If invited for a meal, bring gifts of flowers or fruit.
• Avoid marigold or carnations, for they are associated with funerals.
• Anything from your region (crafts or products) is appropriate to give as gifts. Thais are very interested in what your region/city produces.

Europe corporate gift merchandise etiquette – (England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden)

• Gifts are not a part of business interactions. Rather than giving a gift, invite your hosts to a meal.
• When invited to a home, you may bring flowers, liquor or chocolates. For good etiquette, send a thank you message via messenger (rather than by mail) to the host afterwards.
• Avoid giving white lilies as they signify death.

• Businessmen and women do not expect to receive gifts. If a gift is given, the gift should be of good quality, but not cost an exorbitant amount.
• A good gift to give would be a wine that is not available in Germany.

• Do not give a gift at the first meeting or encounter.
• Avoid too lavish and too skimpy and gifts that show your company logo.
• Local crafts or products from your region are appropriate. Italy:
• Business gifts are mainly given at a senior managerial level. They should be small and not too obviously expensive. The craftsmanship and quality is important.
• Again, avoid company logos on gifts.
• If giving flowers, never give flowers in even numbers. Do not give chrysanthemums for they are used for funerals. Brooches, handkerchiefs and knives all connote sadness.

• If you are given a gift, open it in front of the giver.
• Don’t give 13 flowers. It is considered bad luck.
• Business gifts should not be given at the first meeting.
• Avoid giving gifts with your company logo on it. A pen with your logo is acceptable.
• Local crafts or illustrated books from your region/city are always appropriate and appreciated.

• Liquor is expensive in Sweden, so a gift of liquor is always welcome and appreciated. A wine from your region is a good corporate gift merchandise to give.

Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela)

• Due to high taxes on liquor, this makes for a good gift. Avoid giving wines for the Southern Cone produces good quality wines.
• Any gift should be of high quality. Gifts with company logos should appear discreetly.
• Avoid bringing leather gifts. Argentina is a major cattle and leather producer.
• If giving a gift of flowers, the Bird-of-paradise is highly appreciated.

• Avoid giving gifts of black or purple, as they are colors for mourning.
• Giving a gift is not required at a first meeting. An invitation to lunch or dinner is appropriate.

• Gifts are not required until the relationship is closer.
• If you receive a gift, open it in front of the giver and extend your thanks.

• Gifts are not given during the first meeting. Wait until a relationship is established.
• Do not present a gift during business hours. The best time to present a gift is during a long lunch.
• Gifts that are useful (i.e. a lighter, pen or books) are good gifts for business.
• The orchid is the national flower.
• Women do not give gifts to businessmen.
• Never arrive empty handed, if invited to a person’s home.
Africa and Middle East
(Egypt, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia)

• If invited to a home, bring a gift of baked goods or chocolates. Flowers are acceptable for very Westernized Egyptians, but they were traditionally used for funerals and weddings.
• Some suggestions for gifts include: a compass (to show the direction of Mecca) and small electronic gadgets.
• Receive the gift with the right hand, not with the left. Using both hands are acceptable.

• Avoid giving gifts until you know the individual/party better.
• If giving a gift of food, make sure it is kosher if being given to an Orthodox person.
• If you can remember, receive and present the gift with the right hand or use both hands.

• Crafts or picture books from your home region is always appreciated and liked.
• Avoid pictures of people or dogs; Islam prohibits images of the human body and dogs are considered unclean.
• Good gifts are gold pens and business card holders.
Countries in the Middle East are very similar if not the same in regards to gift giving. This is mostly due to the commonality of their religious beliefs, which plays a major part in their social and cultural lives.

*For more comprehensive information on cultures, customs and gift giving, please also refer to:

  • Asia Business Book, by David Rearwin. Copyright 1991 Business Opportunities in the Far East: The Complete Reference Guide to Practices and Procedures, editied by Lawrence Chimerine, et all. Copyright 1990
  • Do’s and taboos around the world, by Roger E. Axtell Copyright 1990 Dun and Bradstreet’s Guide to Doing Business around the World by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, Joseph J. Douress Copyright 2000 – Revised
  • Global Etiquette Guide to Asia: Everything You Need to Know for Business and Travel Success, by Dean Allen Foster, Dean Foster Copyright 2000 Japanese Business Etiquette & Protocol: An Introduction to Effective Business Relations with the Japanese. (A pamphlet) Tokyo: U.S. Agricultural Trade Office. Copyright 1990
  • Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands, by Terri Morrison,
    Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden, PH.D. Copyright 1994. Multicultural Manners: New Rules of Etiquette for a Changing Society by Norine Dresser Copyright 1995 When Business East Meets Business West: The Pacific Rim Guide to Practice and Protocol, by Christopher Engholm. Copyright 1991
  • Multicultural Manners: New Rules of Etiquette for a Changing Society by Norine Dresser Copyright 1995 When Business East Meets Business West: The Pacific Rim Guide to Practice and Protocol, by Christopher Engholm. Copyright 1991
  • When Business East Meets Business West: The Pacific Rim Guide to Practice and Protocol, by Christopher Engholm. Copyright 1991


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