If you do business in the US, a handshake and follow up email is a great way to begin a relationship. If you’re moving into Asian markets, you now have traditions of gift giving, culture and even religion coming into your business deals. Having the wrong colors, symbols or even patterns on a well-intentioned gift can actually break a deal. Not sending one can cancel it out completely.
This is why it’s important to know what makes a good gift for a business partner, client and for which occasion. The infographic below is a great starting point to help you discover how to send a corporate gift to a business partner when working with companies in Asia.
The Most Popular Corporate Gifts by Asian Country Infographic Summary
The first thing to think about when sending something to a business partner, colleague or client is what the gift is for. By thinking about the holiday, celebration or reason for the gift, you now know what to look for.
If it’s the Chinese New Year, you want to make sure there is something sweet that can be shared with friends and colleagues, and more importantly that the gift has a ton of red and gold colors in it. If you’re sending something to the Philippines for the New Year, polka dots mean good fortune and luck. Incorporating them into a gift pattern will show your business relationship is meant to be fruitful and prosperous.
In the US, a bride will wear white to a wedding. However, white is a color of mourning and worn to funerals in some Asian countries. If you’re sending a gift to a business partner who is getting married, or recently had a baby, you will want to research what colors are traditional for luck, happiness and prosperity. The worst thing you could do is wear or send a gift with clothing that is white or blue.
Symbolism is something that is also as important as colors and the gift itself.
If you’re not using a gift service that has options for specific holidays in Asian countries, you need to research lucky and unlucky symbols. An elephant in Thailand with its trunk raised is seen as lucky and prosperous. If it’s trunk is down, it means the opposite. You’ll want to pay attention to fish, frogs, dragons, numbers and even flowers. A quick Google search will help you find what animals and symbols are lucky in the country you need to send a gift to.
The last thing is the gift itself. You may think that a desk set can be a perfect way to avoid the issues above. A nice leather protective desk mat with a silver letter opener, shears and a designer pen is perfect. Wrong. Some Asian countries will find this offensive.
Gifts with sharp edges can signify cutting the relationship short. In other places, the price and quality of the gift matters. If you go to expensive, they could feel like you’re showing off. Other times you need to buy gifts for everyone and present them in a specific order with price and perceived value being accounted for. Even if you give the nice gift to the person who signed your contract and you work directly with, giving their boss something less expensive or flashy could cost you the relationship.
Working in Asian markets is an amazing way to grow and scale your company. But much like other areas of the world, when you deal with cultures that have centuries and millennia of traditions, you need to be aware of them. If you skip a gift service that has options specifically for occasions and by country, do some research first so you can help show you’re dedicated to the relationship and not accidently do something to hurt it.
Infographic source: GiftBasketsOverSeas.com