An Incentive Gift Card Conundrum that Persists

It’s fun for gift card recipients to shop for merchandise, travel or other experiences with gift cards they have received as an award. It’s not much fun for program sponsors to shop for gift cards at retail outlets, nor is it easy for finance departments to track the outlay on incentive gift cards when they are purchased this way.

Respondents to incentive surveys consistently praise the flexibility and ease that gift cards bring to recognition programs. Inexplicably, the Incentive Research Foundation reports that more than 70% of incentive gift card users purchase them at retail outlets. In doing so, they pass up significant bulk discounts they could receive, as well as a host of services from incentive gift card suppliers that streamline administration of an incentive program and track useful data.

By purchasing gift cards at retail, incentive gift card users also lock themselves into using physical cards. In an increasingly remote work world, this can tack on additional expense when gift cards need to be mailed to recipients. (It also eliminates the instant gratification of being spontaneously recognized, which many gift cards are used for.)

Many incentive gift card suppliers offer a broad selection of gift cards to choose from — or recipients get to choose — and they provide gift cards in digital format as well as physical cards.

Why does this bad habit persist? It’s estimated that as much as one-third of corporate gift card users are unaware there are incentive gift card suppliers.

Now you know.


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