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Gift Cards – The Gift of Choice This Christmas? How to maximise your scheme in-store and online.

xmas cards

In the current social and economic climate, the retail landscape has suffered a bruising and no doubt this Christmas will be a crucial time as brands up the anti with their festive marketing efforts, trying to entice even the most frugal of shoppers to spend. But in a world where as consumers we are becoming less throw away and less frivolous with our spending, instead trying where possible to make more considered purchases but making them with ease, could this be an opportunity for gift cards to really come into their own?

Historically considered ‘a bit of an after-thought’, the breadth of choice, clever design and packaging, along with being a safe option, gift cards have now become a considered and requested gift of choice. Coupled with the increase in popularity of digital download gift cards for gifting and self-use, we seldom hear gift cards referred to with negative connotations and let’s face it, who wouldn’t rather substitute un-wanted gifts for something you ‘really’ want or need.

Christmas is undoubtedly one of the key selling periods for gift cards, but how do we make them stand out and what does a successful campaign look like?

It has been proven that those gift cards and carriers that are enhanced in some way can create a greater ROI. Whether that’s by grabbing the attention of the impulse buyer, that person who may otherwise have gone elsewhere due to the fact they can’t find the right gift or are just simply tired of looking, or whether it’s increasing the load value added to the card; designs with extra finishes or special carriers can certainly work hard for you at Christmas.

But it can’t end there. It’s no good having the best-looking cards and hoping people stumble across them. The most successful schemes will have a full multi-channel marketing campaign with multiple levels of communication.

Let’s take in-store for example. By placing cards in key gifting areas away from the till point, you are gaining greater exposure and targeting those customers specifically browsing for gift ideas. You’re also giving them more chance to select the design, rather than feeling rushed in a busy queuing area. Also think about other touch points throughout the store, additional décor, window decals, clip strips, or any promotional campaigns you can run, which brings me on to another point.

Running a promotional campaign that drives additional footfall during a set time can be really effective. Whether that’s offering a low value gift card when customers spend over X, or inviting them back into store between set days with a promo gift card with an unknown value to be revealed, the chances are the recipient will spend far more than what’s on the card. It’s also a great advertisement for your gift cards in general, gaining internal engagement as well as consumer engagement.

So how do you replicate that online? Arguably you’ve got to work even harder, especially to capture the impulse buyer. Gift cards need to be visible and also look amazing; difficult given you are removing any tactile element from the shopping experience. This is where you can get really clever. You can start marketing the product, even before you have them in stock. Innovative 3D rendering systems will allow you to showcase special finishes simply by using the artwork and you can even rotate around the product, particularly useful if you have carriers that form some sort of packaging such as pillow packs. Digital versions of the gift card can be brought to life, again by rendering them out so they look as good as a physical product and by animating in some way. You have the opportunity to create real theatre and the good news is it’s at little or no extra cost!

And lest we forget the environment. A gift card comes with very little unnecessary packaging, except of course the carrier and it would be a sad world indeed if we removed the excitement of the unwrapping from our gifting experience. But what about the plastic I hear you say! Well, firstly there are many great alternative plastics, such as 100% virgin PVC, and for those wanting to avoid plastic altogether, an even greater choice of quality paper options. We mustn’t also forget that there are many opportunities to recycle all of the above, but it’s all in the messaging and how you communicate that with the consumer.

So, could this be the time for gift cards to come into their own? Yes, I really think it could be, but as with anything in life, only if we put effort and consideration into our approach.

For advice on how to bring your gift card scheme to life, and to learn more about our products and services, including our Earth Cards® range of more environmentally friendly materials, please contact the incodia team. From design to manufacturing and consultancy, we can ensure you get the best out of your scheme, online and in-store.