Feature Article - May/June 2018

Inside the IGCC

Gift Card Trends & The Incentive Gift Card Council

By Rick Dandes

Where Do We Go From Here?

Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart control the world, Borst said. If we are talking gift cards, family dining is a huge category. "What I am finding out is most of our customers, the big suppliers for the loyalty programs are getting more and more questions about our gift card uses outside of the United States. It is scary in some sense because if you are a specialty retailer—such as Foot Locker, Gap, Bass Pro shops, T.J. Maxx the specialty retailers—you wonder how you are going to be able to continue to grow when you are fighting against the Amazons of the world."

Choice, immediacy and convenience is what people want now, Borst said, which leads us back to e-gift cards.

Any discussion has to start with mobile, Hornbogen said. Mobile gift card platforms are great. They enable consumers the ability to buy, send and manage gift cards. Retailers like Starbucks, for example, give you the ability to safely store and manage your gift cards within their mobile applications. Companies like ApplePay and SamsungPay stores virtual versions of all your gift cards so you can easily access them at any time.

"Mobile and social media have to be key elements of getting the message out on our gift card program," Sadek added. "To effectively communicate our gift card offering and our brands, we have to think about the messaging to our Landry's Select Club members, as well as how we can bring it to life through social networking sites that our guests use."

Both mobile and social media have their place in incentive programs, but Tomlin does not believe they have overtaken physical gift cards or reached a point where the social media makes a meaningful difference. However, he said, while your program participants might not post about receiving a gift card, they may have posted an experience or product they purchased using a gift card that was received as part of an incentive.

Meanwhile, Ozer said, a new trend has emerged in which incentive companies and brands are developing their own proprietary gift card solutions. "For example," Ozer said, "CarltonOne Engagement has created new 'G-Codes' that are digital gift codes redeemable from a vast selection of award choices in hundreds of countries globally, Paramax has created codes that can be redeemed for merchandise from various pricing plateau selections, and Tumi and Maui Jim have created non-dollar-denominated gift cards that allow participants to pick their choice of brand-name gifts from a selection of specially selected items."