Gift cards have been at the top of consumers’ wish lists for the past eight years in a row 62% of consumers hope to receive a gift card during the holidays. Consumer spending on gift cards has increased 83% since 2003. If you enjoy seeing a return on your investment, you’ll love gift cards because the financial benefits can be tremendous. Consumers spend more than $150 billion each year on purchasing gift cards – and this number doesn’t even account for the money spent when consumers shop with them. Because gift cards make the recipient feel as if they have “free money,” 72% of gift card holders spend more than a card’s value when using them to purchase goods or services. In fact, 65% of gift card recipients will spend 38% more than the value of the gift card received. However, there are a number of factors influencing whether or not a gift card program is successful. Like any merchant objective, offering a gift card program requires careful planning and ongoing management.
Gift Card Programming
Gift card programs should incorporate a marketing plan. Basic gift card marketing plans typically involve:
- Marketing objective. This is often a statement of a sales goal for a period of time. It is typically calculated as a percentage of overall sales for the business (e.g., 3% of company revenue results from gift card activations) or percentage increase from the prior year.
- Customer analysis. A brief discussion of which customers you are targeting and information you have about their preferences or expectations for gift cards.
- Detailed plans of what you will do to achieve your goals. The plans should include sections for:
• In-store merchandising including displays, signage, etc.
• Card and carrier designs including target inventory levels
• Out-of-store promotion
• Employee involvement including plans for communicating to location-based employees on an ongoing basis
• Special promotions that include campaigns for periods of importance for the business. This may involve special efforts for Back to School, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.
• Cross-promotions/customer incentives (e.g., buy a particular item and receive a free gift card)
• Increased marketing during the holidays
• A website and active social media presence
Gift Card Fraud
The Retail Council of Canada points out that fraud is not only a potential problem with credit cards, but it is also prevalent in gift card transactions. For more information on reducing the risk of gift card fraud, please go here http://datacandy.com/resources/demand/ for a free presentation.
Gift Card Revenues
Revenue from gift certificates is viewed as earnings and will be taxed accordingly. Oftentimes spas make the mistake of seeing gift card revenue as cash flow. Accordingly, when the gift cards are redeemed a spa’s earnings profile can look anemic. Taking revenues from gift card sales and placing them in a separate account with interest earned allows this intake of earnings to grow while waiting for the recipient to process their gift. Furthermore, it allows for a clear financial analysis of gift certificate earnings, guest spending habits and ways the spa can increase the success of future gift card sales and promotions. Tracking gift card purchasers and recipients can further create systems for referral sales and retention of new and existing guests.
Through POS (point of sale) software appropriate trickle down discounting can be assigned in pay systems output. To avoid gift certificate fatigue among staff members, add on sales can be heavily bonused. Additional bonus structures can be applied for pre-booking of further visits for the gift certificate guests. Additional retail sales training for the gift certificate client will allow the staff to understand how prescribing retail to this guest demographic can increase guest loyalty. Additionally, guests consistently report an increase in practitioner credibility when they go home with professional care.
Gift Card Presentation
Everyone loves getting gift cards; however, they aren’t the most exciting package to open. Packaging gift cards in a box is one ideal way to boost the excitement and conceal the nature of the gift. Depending on the purchaser’s preferences and budget, gift cards can be given with a gift basket of spa retail including: candles, essential oils, energetic jewelry, bath salts, lotion or skin care sampler kits. Giving a gift card with any type of physical present reduces the intangible gift let-down and boosts the gifting occasion to a double-the-pleasure type of excitement. It increases the period of time the future guest has to enjoy the spa-inspired gift. Ultimately the branded gift can be a real boost to capturing the recipient’s long term loyalty. Thoughtfulness on the part of the spa presentation creates built in good will and trust.
It is always the season for gift cards. There is always an audience for gift card giving. Create a marketing plan for this portion of your spa business as a stand-alone opportunity. Consider promoting your best staff members to gift card ambassadors. Place these valuable team members on a commission structure or bonus them on met quotas. Pay attention to gift card marketing and watch your corresponding revenues grow.
*Figures in this article were taken from SPAA research and data.