The dos and don’ts of corporate gifting: gift cards

by | Dec 1, 2020 | Experts

Visit your nearest grocery store and it won’t take long for you to notice an extensive display of gift cards. Either strategically placed near the greeting cards, camouflaging end-caps, or staring you down while you wait in the checkout lane. You may even skip the trip to the store with online platforms that let you buy and send e-gift cards from the comfort of your home office.

When it comes to giving someone the “gift of choice,” many companies have coined the phrase in hopes of selling more gift cards. But are gift cards deserving of such a liberating title? No, not really—at least according to this survey by Consumer Reports. Among other things, this survey found that when recipients are given a choice between receiving a tangible gift from a collection of items versus receiving a gift card, more people opt for the tangible item. Although retailers try to persuade consumers that these shiny bits of plastic will excite recipients, researchers agree that gift cards don’t effectively appreciate or inspire for three main reasons: they’re time-consuming and inconvenient to redeem, easy to forget, and impersonal.

Time-consuming & inconvenient
Even though gift cards can be viewed as a quick gift for the givers, recipients tend to feel that gift cards are more of a hassle than a means of rewarding. Perhaps it’s because 58% of those surveyed said they didn’t have time to go shopping, so they never used their gift cards. When you give someone a gift card, you’re giving them a chore and adding to their “to-do” list. Now, instead of relishing in their moment of recognition, recipients have to plan a trip to a store or carve out hours of time to browse online in order to redeem their gift cards.

In addition to being time-consuming, survey respondents said the reservations they have about receiving gift cards also include time-sensitive inconvenience. Gift cards can accumulate fees, decrease in value, expire too soon, or retailers may go out of business before a card is used.

Easy to forget
When it comes to recipients redeeming their gift cards, 32% of those surveyed said they either lose gift cards, forget about them, or roll them directly into household spending which doesn’t make a memorable impact. According to another study by the National Retail Federation, unused or forgotten gift cards have totaled over $44 Billion since 2008. And it’s safe to say that if recipients forget that they have the gift card, they definitely forget who gave it to them in the first place. Thus, the opportunity to make a lasting impression or host a memorable program is wasted.

An impersonal approach
Finally, among all of the reservations recipients have about gift cards, impersonality ranked at the top. If you think gift cards are the lazy person’s way of gift-giving—you’re right. Respondents reported that gift cards seem to be more popular among gift-givers than receivers and often give the impression that the giver is disconnected and doesn’t value the recipients’ lifestyles or interests. In fact, 35% said they didn’t use the gift card because they couldn’t find anything to buy from the cards’ specific retailer. This puts the giver-recipient relationship at risk and indicates a lack of enthusiasm on the giver’s part, making the recipient question if the giver is that detached from their likes and dislikes.

Unlike gift cards, virtual gift experiences actually feel rewarding for several reasons: they’re inspiring to receive and redeem, they create memorable moments that generate shareable stories to build buzz around your recognition efforts, and they celebrate recipients as real people which strengthens giver-recipient relationships that are built on mutual gratitude and respect. Furthermore, virtual gift experiences are easy for the giver and exciting for the recipient. They take the guesswork out of gifting and help ensure everyone receives a gift they want and will enjoy long after the experience ends.

So, when it comes to delivering the “gift of choice,” don’t turn to gift cards—turn to the Gift Experience Experts. We’ve got the gifts they want and the solutions you need to make it an all-around win.

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