According to research conducted by credit card firm American Express, 2006 looks likely to be the first year in which gift cards take the top spot as the most popular holiday season gift, nudging ahead of clothing for the first time.
According to a survey of just over a thousand shoppers conducted by American Express:
- 66 per cent plan to give gift cards (up from 57 per cent in 2005);
- 68 per cent plan to buy clothing as gifts (steady compared to 2005);
- 64 per cent plan to buy toys or games;
- 63 per cent plan to give music, CDs or DVDs;
- 46 per cent will opt for cash gifts;
- 43 per cent will buy perfume, cologne or cosmetics;
- 43 per cent willpurchase books or magazines.
Due to the survey’s inherent margin of error of plus/minus over 3 per cent, gift cards are likely to supplant clothing as the most popular final choice of gifts. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards are expected to account for $24.8 billion in sales this holiday season (up from $18.5 billion in 2005). On average, shoppers are expected to spend more than $116 on gift cards this year.
While gift cards have been popular for many years, they are increasingly accepted as a thoughtful gift and have become presentable gifts in their own right with many gift cards featuring more and more creative designs and their own imaginative gift wrapping or gift boxes.
So is the trend towards gift cards visible online? While Google Trends doesn’t display any metrics for the current holiday season, the spikes in search traffic for the term “gift card” in the past years are unmistakable.
How are you promoting your gift cards?
Considering the huge popularity of gift cards, are you doing enough to promote this gift idea to your shoppers? Gift cards often tend to be treated as an “also ran” option on retail websites. If you are doing this, you might be making it unnecessarily hard for your customers to find their gift of choice! Here are a few last minute ideas to promote your gift card options:
- Highlight your gift cards in a prominent position on your homepage and department pages;
- Provide a link to the gift cards on all product search results pages;
- Include gift cards in your recommendation engine;
- Highlight gift cards on your shopping cart page;
- Promote gift cards in any targeted email promotions;
- Send out last minute emails promoting gift cards as an easy gift option;
- Make sure you tell you customers about any special features of your gift cards, eg. customizable design or special gift wrapping options ;
- Enable customers to buy email-based gift cards for those people who left their holiday shopping to the very, very, very last minute;
- If you have a company blog, blog about your gift cards!
And if you currently don’t offer gift cards at all, it’s certainly time to make sure you have them ready for next year’s holiday season!