EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Gail Cohen, UKGCVA Director General

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Gail Cohen, UKGCVA Director General

It's a date on every gift card provider's calendar and a great industry meet up. If you're interested in rewards, incentives and engagement, gift card

It’s a date on every gift card provider’s calendar and a great industry meet up. If you’re interested in rewards, incentives and engagement, gift cards are a natural choice. The industry meeting fromThe UK Gift Card & Voucher Association – The Trade Body representing Gift Vouchers, Cards and Stored Value Solutions brings together a range of people in the space and is always a great event.

We caught up with Gail Cohen, UKGCVA Director General to talk about the new format 2-day conference.

Can you tell us about this year’s conference and what’s ahead? 

The conference is the key gift card industry event of the year. Its continued popularity and success has led to us extending it over two days for the first time – from the 7th to 8th March at Grange Tower Hill hotel in London. This will allow for further opportunities to attend workshops and exhibitions, as well as network, debate and discuss the future of the industry with other experts in the industry. We are excited to have such a strong and wide range of speakers who will be discussing the challenges and opportunities 2018 presents, along with panel discussions, workshops and Q&A sessions. This will provide conference delegates, attending from the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, with an invaluable opportunity to gain practical insight to help their business and the industry as a whole.

 

We often see the Gift Card sector quoted as a £5bn industry. How is this stat changing?

With increased popularity of digital gift cards, more purchases for self-use, the rise of gift cards used for loyalty, incentive and reward, we estimate the industry to be worth £6 billion in card load value in 2018 across physical and digital gift cards.

We estimate the industry to be worth £6 billion in card load value in 2018 across physical and digital gift cards.

What topics are coming up at meetings and will be discussed at the event?

There are key changes to legislation and tax which are very important to our members and the industry as a whole. Our workshops and seminars aim to ensure members are fully informed and consulted. Sustainability, fraud and security, innovation as well as both B2B and B2C market delivery are ongoing topics we will be discussing at this year’s conference.

Of course, focusing on the end consumer and ensuring they are informed and protected is always an important area. To this end, the UKGCVA recently launched ‘Top Tips e-guide’, which provides information to consumers on buying and redeeming gift cards.

What spaces are gift cards being used in? 

We work with BDO Consulting to produce a twice-yearly data report which forms the most comprehensive insight into industry activity for the previous 6 months. This report is made up of data received from over 30 retailer/issuer members of the UKGCVA. From the previous two years, B2B channels have continued to experience growth. Self-use is also a rising area, especially among millennial consumers.

From the previous two years, B2B gift card channels have continued to experience growth. Self-use is also a rising area, especially among millennial consumers.

Can you also give us an insight into the gift card split between digital and plastic, or any other trends?

As anticipated, digital channels and product offers continue to grow, with 59% of customers being influenced by the gift card’s ability to function digitally. The ability to purchase and redeem online and offline is proving attractive to consumers. Meanwhile, we’re seeing more retailers explore how they can marry up gift cards, vouchers and loyalty in to one streamlined offering. Paper and plastic vouchers now require a digital presence in order to remain competitive.

What exciting campaigns and developments have you seen this year in the space?

The Gift Card space continues to grow and develop – with the introduction of personalisation, self-use and increasingly creative designs. Over the past year the UKGCVA launched two initiatives, The #GiftBetter Christmas consumer social campaign, and a Top Tips e-guide promoting best practice for giving and receiving gift cards for consumers.

At last year’s Hall of Fame Awards, we saw plenty of innovation from our members such as Reward Cloud that has digitised the UK market through their API platform. Companies like Nitecrest has introduced a virtual gifting experience through the use of video messaging. Retailers have also been developing their offering by experimenting with the levels of discount and commission within the B2B market through Flash Sales.

The conference always reveals such exciting stats around gift cards gathered from great data sources.  Can you give us a preview of the kind of data you’ve been busy gathering and some stand out stats?

This year, we will announce the findings of the UKGCVA’s ‘industry insight’ research, revealing in depth views of members of the gift card and voucher industry on important topics ranging from Brexit to innovation; the GDPR to the growing B2B market.

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