Cashback News – Nov 30: Top 50 Gift cards, 53% prefer gift cards to gifts, 25% lose them, 60% self-gifting…

Gift cards still effective?We hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving with your family and found a few bargains on Black Friday. Since it’s Cyber Monday, we thought we’d look at gift cards, current research, trends and whether they’re still effective. We found a few surprises to share with you today. Later this week we’ll also look back at Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

So what are the 2015 Top 50 gift cards? CardHub has the answer including including the top three: Visa, Amazon and American Express. Here’s an intriguing fact from a recent Allison+Partners survey: 53% of consumers prefer a gift card over other gifts for Christmas. Capgemini Consulting reports only 11% of loyalty programs use purchase history or location – a very big missed opportunity. According to Mercator Advisory Group, 67% of gift cards are now available in digital form, 92% now allow you to check balance online but only 8% feature additional rewards.

The National Retail Federation reports nearly 60% of Americans will buy themselves a gift this holiday season. Oops, one in four Americans report they have lost a gift card and 40% of millennials have lost a gift card before redeeming the total balance says consulting firm CEB. The proliferation of gift cards is extending the holiday shopping season according to Esmael Adibi, director of Chapman University’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research. Study by Stored Value Solutions (SVS) shows most consumers still prefer physical gift cards than digital or online-only gift cards. Finally, the National Retail Federation says nearly 60% of Americans practice “self-gifting.”

2015’s Most Popular Gift Cards & 8 Gift Card Tips cards are the most sought after type of present for the ninth straight holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation, with nearly 59% of consumers hoping to receive one this year. But not all gift cards are created equal, and it’s important to understand which ones are the most popular as well as what industry trends you can take advantage of in order to please the people on your gift giving list and save some money during this expensive time of year. After all, holiday shoppers are expected to shell out an average of $805 this year, with the average gift card buyer projected to spend more than $173 on plastic alone. We could all stand to lower those tabs.

With that in mind, we at CardHub have compiled a list of the 50 most popular gift cards for 2015 in addition to 8 important tips for managing your gift card spending this holiday season. Hopefully this information will help you maximize the holiday cheer that you spread this year. Via

Gift Cards Top Consumers’ Holiday Wish List

Gift Card In A BoxGift cards, while they may seem like an impersonal gift, are more popular and desirable than ever. In an era when shoppers want options, they receive high marks on holiday gift lists across generations and as new innovations continue to flood the market. They have also made the leap to the digital age, and are now an excellent option for online shoppers as well. However, gift cards aren’t just great for consumers — they are also a win for retailers. The gift of store credit creates a host of new opportunities for retailers to engage and deepen relationships with existing customers and card recipients alike.

A recent survey from Allison+Partners on behalf of MyPoints asked 1,050 U.S. adults to tell them about their preferences when it came to gift cards and holiday gift giving. Perhaps surprisingly, the majority (53%) of respondents — when asked what they would like to receive as a gift from a list of options — chose gift cards. The items were selected over other options such as apparel, books, toys and games, movies and videos, food and beverage and other items. Via

How to keep customers loyal through the holidays loyalty can be a fickle thing during the holiday season. People are very rushed to buy gifts and prepare meals, but they are also inundated with advertisements. There is an increase in marketing emails, there are ads on social media, commercials on television and radio and the list goes on. Here are 4 ways to keep customers loyal through the holidays.

First, Personalize Rewards
“Only 11 percent of loyalty programs offer personalized rewards based on purchase history or location tracking, according to a study from Capgemini Consulting, and that’s a huge missed opportunity for retailers. Your customers want to know that they’re valued on an individual level, so if the functionality is available to you, offer your shoppers highly targeted, relevant rewards. Analyze their past purchases and redemptions, and recommend rewards they’d be likely to value based on previous behavior. The more relevant rewards they can earn, the more likely they are to make the purchase with you. That said if you’re not confident in your recommendation engine, it’s best to just keep it simple. Consumers can get pretty turned off when you get their recommendations wrong,” said Danielle Brown, Vice President of Marketing, Points. Via

Gift Cards Have Fewer Fees, More Features those who feel that buying a plastic gift card and sending it to someone in the mail feels like too much work, your utopia is here. More than two-thirds — 67% of cards — are now available in an e-card version, according to the survey. Another nice digital feature — being able to check a card balance online — has also become an industry standard. It’s now available on 92% of cards, up from 87% last year.

But while card issuers are increasingly offering online functionality, don’t expect plastic gift cards to go away anytime soon, says Ben Jackson, director of the prepaid advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group, a payments industry consulting firm near Boston. “Technologists are going to tell you that plastic is going to disappear, but the retailers who deal with this stuff everyday will tell you, ‘No it’s not,’” Jackson says. “There are … folks who like to take that physical card and put it in a box, or put it in another greeting card — do something to kind of fancy up the presentation — as a way of sort of saying, ‘I’m going to give this to you and I’m going to personalize it, but still give you a choice.’”

Unlike digital options for cards, rewards for using gift cards are still a relative rarity. Only 8% of the cards in our survey had them.  Via

When Buying Gift Cards, Know Your Audience (and Their Age)

gift cards popularA persistent problem with gift cards is their tendency to go astray. About a quarter of Americans have lost a gift card, the survey found. Millennials — those in their late teens and 20s — are particularly prone to misplacing the cards, with almost four in 10 saying they have lost one before using its entire balance.

Regardless, the cards remain popular. Bankrate’s survey found that more than 80 percent of Americans have received a gift card. CEB, a consulting company that tracks the cards, estimated that spending on gift cards in the United States would reach nearly $130 billion in 2015, up about 6 percent from last year. Via

Delighted OC merchants’ booming shopping season“It’s not what it used to be, and part of the reason is retailers start so early discounting and then even after Black Friday you can find deals even better than Black Friday’s,” Adibi told City News Service. “The competition is so severe people are realizing they’re not necessarily getting the best deals.”

The holiday shopping season is actually extending into overtime because of the proliferation of gift cards, which are often cashed in after Christmas and New Year’s Day, Adibi said. Gift cards “are pushing a lot of sales into January,” Adibi said. Via

Ecommerce Roundup: Gift cards to push holiday spending, BizRate’s new report finds people like gift cards – if they’re on the receiving end. Researchers found that while most (77%) Americans have given a gift card in the past year, 66% prefer to receive gift cards this holiday while only 46% plan to give them….

The difference in giving and getting gift cards is different according to demographics. BizRate’s report finds 72% of Gen Y shoppers would like to receive a gift card while only 43% plan to gift them, 66% of Gen Xers want gift cards but 52% plan to gift them and 54% of Boomers would like to receive gift cards while 47% plan to gift them. Via

Study On Digital Gift Cards Tracks Attitude, Offers Guidance for Retailers

gift-card-usageResults of this survey indicated that one in three males prefer to buy digital cards, and nearly 40 percent of consumers aged 18 to 35 expressed a preference for digital cards. 64 percent of consumers surveyed had not yet bought or received a digital or mobile gift card, although Millennials numbered 29 percent of the survey population who had done so. gift card usage

Analysis from this study on digital and mobile adoption reflected how people are actually shopping, and how they are feeling about switching from physical to (virtual) digital cards. It identified a geographic aspect to consumer preferences, with physical gift cards being the preferred mode for face-to-face exchanges and digital cards becoming more popular and socially acceptable when gift giving cannot be done in person. Via

Six in ten Americans give themselves gifts no longer wait for Santa to bring presents. Instead, they are buying their own presents. Yes, more and more people are treating themselves when they are out shopping for others.

Nearly 60% of people are now “self-gifting,” according to the National Retail Federation. It’s become so acceptable that the number of people admitting they are doing it has nearly doubled in the past two years, according to research by Stored Value Solutions, a company that runs gift card programs. Via

What’s ahead this week?

That’s our look at the most recent gift card research and trends. It should have most retailers and e-commerce marketers smiling. Coming up later this week, watch for our reports on the results of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as the holiday shopping season kicks into gear.

As always, we invite your story ideas, research suggestions and feedback on the