According to a report from CEB (formerly known as the Corporate Executive Board), $118 billion was loaded on gift cards last year, an increase of nearly 8 percent over 2012. That means that U.S. consumption of gift cards exceeds the GDP of 136 countries.
With those kind of numbers, it’s clear that card usage reaches far beyond department store cards for birthdays and holidays. Businesses use gift cards to recruit, recognize and motivate employees; to reward workplace safety; to forge relationships with dealers and distributors; to build trade show traffic; and to encourage consumers to buy their products.
The gift card industry continues to play a key role in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets. They serve a variety of functions in many types of incentive programs. Gift cards have both trophy and “halo” value. They are marks of accomplishment that can be given in an awards ceremony or included in congratulatory note or email. They produce a halo effect when employeesare reminded of their accomplishment as they plan how to redeem the card and then again when they receive and use the merchandise or travel.
There also is opportunity to share the experience with family by involving them in rewards such as restaurants and travel. Unlike cash, recipients are unlikely to consider gift cards as compensation and thus do not learn to expect them.
Flexible sales incentives
Gift cards work especially well as sales incentives. They’re available in many denominations — and thus flexible enough to reward any incremental sales volume. Unlike cash, which is a common and expected form of variable compensation among sales teams, gift cards are generally seen as a one-time reward
for a job well done.
An Incentive Federation study found that 78 percent of respondents offer incentives for salespeople, 57 percent for resellers, 77 percent for consumers and 67 percent for employees.
Andersen Consulting’s survey of 500 executives revealed that programs to retain and reward sales, marketing and customer service employees could provide a $40 million lift to the bottom line of a $1 billion business. The biggest return on investment — $13 million — came from efforts to motivate and reward employees. Programs to recruit and retain talent added $10 million.
Finding a provider
Gift cards are available through numerous channels, including directly from the special markets departments of the issuer, which can also provide promotional copy and logos. Other procurement channels include incentive companies, sales promotion and advertising agencies, and promotional product distributors.
The Incentive Gift Card Council (usegiftcards.org) is an industry group whose objective is to educate the motivation industry and end users on the benefits of gift cards. A member directory is available at SalesandMarketing.com.
With access to an ever-growing list of available restaurants in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., the Zagat gift card has no expiration dates and can be used as many times as its cash limit permits. Available digitally and in plastic, this versatile gift offers endless possibilities. For more information, contact Rymax at rymaxinc.com/smm or call 866‑684-1175.
The reward of choice
Are you looking for the perfect one-size-fits-all reward? Look no further because the SuperCertificate® REWARD is the solution to your recognition needs. The SuperCertificate REWARD can be redeemed for one gift card or a combination of gift cards from a list of more than 200 nationwide merchants. Let your recipient make the choice. Call 866-896-4781 or visit gcincentives.com to learn more.
Individual incentive travel
Give your top performers their moment in the sun. Marriott Individual Incentives allow you to properly recognize your indispensable superstars. The ultimate reward is a fabulous stay at one of Marriott’s 3,600 locations worldwide. They deserve it. For more details, call 800-835-7754 or visit MarriottMotivates.com.
The gift of the great outdoors
Let Cabela’s tailor an incentive program that inspires and rewards. In addition to standard programs, co-branded programs provide added brand visibility. No minimums, volume discounts, and legendary service. Call today to get started. Email email@example.com or call 800-753-3219, or visit CorporateOutfitter.Cabelas.com.
Tumi gift cards
Tumi offers gift cards in any denomination between $50 and $2,000. The cards can be redeemed at any Tumi store in the U.S. or online at tumi.com. The Tumi gift card has an elegant black background and red Tumi logo that ties in with the fashionable appeal of Tumi products. Cards can be customized for a corporate program. For more information, contact Mike Landry at 413-567-1567 or visit tumispecialmarkets.com.
Walgreens gift card
Over 25,000 products to choose from, 8,000 convenient locations nationwide. From prescriptions to photos, this is a gift or reward that your recipients are sure to use. Volume discounts available. No expiration dates or fees. Cards are reloadable. To order, call toll-free 877-492-4222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rewards that motivate
Best Buy® gift cards — or personalized e-gift cards — are hard to resist and easy to redeem, either in store or online. For a business boost, Best Buy gift cards are your simple solution for motivation. No fees. No expiration dates. Just Happiness.™ Visit corporategiftcards.bestbuy.com or call 877-370-1234.
Support the greater good by choosing CharityChoice donation gift cards. You may designate the funds for up to three charities of your choice, exclusively from an online list of over 250 major charities and many local causes, totaling over 1,000 in all. The online designation is an easy and rewarding experience with something meaningful for everyone. Follow the easy instructions on the back of the card to donate the funds. A complete list of charities is available at www.charitygiftcertificates.org, but for more information, please visit Rymax at rymaxinc.com/smm or call 866-684-1175.