In our 2017 Knack Business Gift Satisfaction Report, we uncovered a surprising golden nugget of wisdom — 83% of respondents said that they prefer “unique and useful” products over gift cards.

That tells us that cash is not king, baby. Our respondents came from a pool of 500 individuals from across the country. The operative word there is “individuals.” To us, that 83% tells a deeper story. We believe that number speaks to a desire we all share: to be recognized for who we are and how we individually contribute to a company’s success. That’s the real power of a thoughtful gift — it’s an expression of gratitude that’s as meaningful to give as it is to receive.

The Most Popular Business Gifts

Beyond the revelation that “unique and useful” beats out gift cards, here’s how the rest of the numbers played out according to recipients’ preferred business gifts:

top business gifts by preference

The data also reinforces one of the trends we see in Knack’s own corporate customer base: business gifters are branching out from safe and nondescript gifts like snacks and coffee mugs into more personal gift areas such as neutral spa items, backyard games and outdoor gear. The more you know about the recipient, the more unique and useful your gift can be. Even if your relationship is strictly business, you probably know a few details about them that can be used to build a memorable gift.

business gifts

What qualifies as a “unique and useful” gift?

Let’s dig in to the idea of “unique and useful.” Think of these as gifts that feed the mind as well as the body. Here’s how we describe it:

  • Common office or household objects with a luxurious or innovative twist
  • Handmade goods, made with care by small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Gifts with a “give-back” mission, relevant to the recipient’s passions or interests
  • Related hard goods combined with consumable items (i.e. a hand-blown glass carafe with a bottle of wine)

Now let’s put those unique-and-useful tenets into practice. Below are five business gift suggestions that you can use as a starting point to build unique and useful gifts for all the recipients on your gift list this year:

5 Unique and Useful Business Gifts You Should Consider This Year

1. Food-Related: For the Client Who Has a List of Restaurants He “MUST Try While He’s in Town” – King of the Kitchen

unique useful food gift

While eating at said restaurants, you also learned that he likes to cook. Meat, specifically. This gift box is unique because it includes a Missy MadeWell “This Man Can Cook” apron and That Black Dot’s “Big Daddy’s Kitchen” towel — two things he’d never buy for himself but will certainly use the next time he fires up the grill. And since he loves to travel to Seattle, the Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen signed cookbook (yes, signed) and Rub With Love Ancho & Molasses Barbecue Sauce will be useful and a reminder of a city he spends a lot of time in.

2. Books: For the Introspective Data Analyst Who Helped Reinvent Your Business  Leonardo da Vinci Book Lover’s Gift Set

unique useful book lover's gift leonardo da vinci biography

She’s the marvel who makes art out of metrics. You never catch her without a Moleskine journal, and have watched her doodle intricate patterns through dozens of meetings. You talked about the author Walter Isaacson between meetings (the invariable mention of Steve Jobs), so you posit she’ll be delighted to receive his latest book about Leonardo Da Vinci (and even more so that you remembered the conversation). And any self-respecting sketch artist would appreciate the Zuan Mixed Media Sketch Book, Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils and a Blackwing Long Point Pencil Sharpener. Because it’s all about the details.

3. Spa & Beauty Items: For the Creative Director with the Impeccable Beard— That Seattle Look

unique useful grooming supplies gift for men

You don’t know how he does it, the seeming ease with which he can redesign your website and in the next meeting convince your CMO to hire a new photographer who will bring more “emotional resonance” to your art direction. This is a man with a story. Do not be afraid to show your admiration (dare we say, your man-crush) with a Metamorphic Gear Small Dopp Kit made out of upcycled materials and Herbivore Botanicals Beard Tonic Sampler and Men’s Face Elixir. If he’s not already on the face oil train, you will be the one he remembers as introducing him to his new favorite man-scaping ritual. Choo-choo!

4. Wine & Spirits: For the Lawyer Who Won Your Case — Opulento Gift Set

unique useful wine caramels gift

Really now, this gift can’t adequately convey your immense gratitude. Had it gone the other way, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t be ordering Opulento Gift Sets for the legal team. So this is the least you can do for your lead counsel. She’s professed a love of port, so the Brian Carter Opulento will go down nice and easy. Chocolates — always important to have tucked in a top drawer of a power desk. And the Gray Gemma Luster Apertif Glasses will stand proudly at attention in her bar cart, ready to salute this win, and more to come.

5. Pets: For the CEO Who Brings Her Dog to Work — Four-Legged Friends 

unique useful dog lover's gift

Sometimes the way to the boss’s heart is through the furry BFF. You know that both the doodle and the master love to hike, so she can stash Coalatree’s Hound Basin Travel Dog Bowl in a backpack to keep pup hydrated.  The Quartz Dog Leash by Metamorphic Gear is made from salvaged climbing rope that’s upcycled into a study lasso for long walks in the park. And since the pooch is still in training, Bailey’s Biscuits will come in handy for rewarding good behavior. Best part, every time your boss does all of the above with the cool gear you got her, she’ll remember you gave it to her.

See how easy it is to be “unique and useful?” Take time to think about your recipient and what makes them tick, and both you and your gift are sure to stand out — especially for those business colleagues.