How you can tell if your employee recognition programme needs a reboot

The average U.K. consumer spends £41 more than the original value of their gift card according to the U.K. Prepaid Consumer Insights Study released today by First Data (NYSE: FDC). The study also found that 34% of consumers visit a store they would not have visited otherwise due to their receipt of a gift card.

First Data’s first U.K. Prepaid Consumer Insights Study looked at trends in branded currency, giving business owners insight into how gift cards can benefit and grow their businesses. This year’s study was based on survey data from more than 1,000 U.K. consumers and aggregated responses across four unique age groups: Generation Z (ages 18-23), Millennials (ages 24-37), Generation X/Y (ages 38-53), and Boomers (age 54+).

“Our study shows a distinct opportunity for U.K. business owners to drive more sales, strengthen their brand, and bolster customer loyalty by implementing smart branded currency strategies,” said John Gibbons, Executive Vice President, Head of EMEA & Co-Head of Global Financial Solutions at First Data. “From employee rewards and customer service programs to social media promotions and targeted marketing campaigns, both physical and digital gift cards offer valuable incentives to both businesses and consumers.”

Consumer Preference Shifts Toward Digital

First Data’s U.K. Prepaid Consumer Insights Study results showed increased interest for digital currency and a growth trajectory that is expected to continue. The study found that 55% of consumers purchased plastic gift cards, while 45% of consumers purchased digital gift cards in 2018. While a majority of purchasers still prefer plastic, consumers are accelerating their use of digital cards largely due to convenience – as these can be sent instantly and are easier to reload.

Gift Cards Impact Consumer Purchasing Behaviour

The study also identified that 44% of U.K. consumers are likely to visit a store more often as a result of receiving a gift card, and 74% spend more than the value of their gift card. The most commonly visited stores based on consumers’ preference for purchasing gift cards included: department stores (30%), food supermarkets or grocery stores (26%), and online-only merchants (17%). Petrol stations (4%) and fine dining restaurants (4%) received the lowest gift card spend.

Gift Cards: A Preferred Brand of Currency

Last year, U.K. consumers spent on average £203 or 38% of their annual gifting budget on gift cards. And, while 81% of consumers surveyed purchased a gift card as a present for an occasion or event, one in three respondents spent more on a gift card than a traditional gift. Although very few consumers purchased a gift card for themselves exclusively, primary reasons for doing so included receiving a discount or to receive loyalty rewards. The study also showed that consumers self-purchasing gift cards spend more than when purchasing for others. Other reasons for reloading gift cards included shopping online and budgeting.