Though the vast majority of gift cards have traditionally been of the plastic type and sold in person, a sea change is occurring in the gift-card industry and has more consumers buying gift cards online and more retailers offering improved online gift card experiences – such as personalization and incentives, according to a recent survey by CashStar.
The 2009 Pre-Holiday Online Shopper Gift Card Survey of online US shoppers revealed that 68% of online shoppers agree that buying a gift card online that can be sent via e-mail is more convenient than having plastic cards shipped to a gift card recipient. Additionally, 80% of online shoppers say that if their favorite store or restaurant offered a personalized online gift card on their website, they would be more likely to purchase an online gift card from that retailer.
Personalization is Important Success Factor
A key factor for success for online gift cards is personalization, the study found.? Half of all respondents said they have decided against giving gift cards in the past because they were not personal enough. An overwhelming majority (85%) of online shoppers who are planning to give gift cards this holiday season expressed interest in purchasing personalized online cards that can be sent via e-mail. And 70% reported that the ability to personalize a gift card is important to them.
Incentives More Critical than Ever
Nearly nine in 10 (88%) of online shoppers in the survey indicate that they would be more likely to purchase a gift card that has an incentive attached (i.e. send a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card for themselves).
“Delivering compelling offers and incentives is much easier in the digital marketplace for retailers, as fulfillment is much less expensive and is immediate,” said CashStar CEO David Stone. “And savvy retailers understand the benefit of offering a $10 incentive card to drive traffic to the store or site, where the consumer typically spends 60% more than the card’s face value.”
Additional survey findings:
- Print-at-home is becoming increasingly popular. Survey respondents print the following at home: coupons (70%), boarding passes (48%), concert/movie tickets (30%) and gift cards (14%).
- Online shoppers interested in ‘green’ alternatives. More than half (56%) of respondents said they are more likely to purchase online gift cards because they are better for the environment than petroleum-based plastic cards.
- Gift cards remain popular choice this holiday. A third of consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online than they did in 2008 and 40%? plan to give gift cards (of that number, 70% plan to give between two and five gift cards this year).
- Siblings and friends top gift card recipient list, while restaurants top gift card category. Online shoppers say that their top gift card recipients are siblings (48%) and friends (45%). Restaurants topped the gift-card category list with 59% of online shoppers planning to give restaurant gift cards. General retail and consumer electronics were close behind with 56% and 35% respectively.
About the survey: The national survey was designed to provide insight into the holiday gifting behavior of online shoppers. The survey was conducted in October 2009 via Zoomerang and is based on 800 respondents (43% male, 57% female).