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BizReport : : March 03, 2017

Physical gift cards remain dominant choice

A new report from the National Gift Card Corp reveals that, while digital gift cards continue to rise in popularity, they still account for a very small percentage of overall gift card formats for which loyalty points are redeemed.

by Helen Leggatt

In their summary of gift card activity in 2016 for both physical and digital gift cards, the National Gift Card Corp reveals that big box retailers are the primary sellers of gift cards, and that physical gift cards are by far the most common format sold. Walmart is the most popular physical gift card reward option.

"The general consumer market who shops at the leading big box stores do so because they want the physical shopping experience of those brands," says Eric Thiegs, president of the National Gift Card Corp. "This audience will continue to translate to those individuals selecting a physical gift cards as the ideal reward method, especially for self-use."

However, as those big box retailers shift resources to ecommerce activity, there is little doubt that digital gift cards will also see an uptick in use. However, as it stands, most consumers (85%) prefer plastic gift cards.

"There's a substantial population of Gen X and Baby Boomers who prefer to redeem their points, miles and cash back rewards for physical gift cards. More Millennials select eGift card rewards, but there is also some digital backlash as end-users experience eCard technology issues, training gaps at the point of sale, confusion with mobile wallets, or even fraud," said Thiegs. "The world is digital, and loyalty programs will need to continue evolving to provide choices for both physical and digital reward options, but physical gift cards will continue to be perceived by many to be the safest and most universal option for years."

Tags: eGift card, gift card, loyalty marketing, retail

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