New data has shown that digital and multi-channel gift cards are no longer an expectation exclusive to younger consumers, with a growing number of consumers across all generations expecting to be able to use gift cards across various physical, digital and mobile channels.
The State of the Nation 2023 research, carried out by the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA) and GlobalData found that the proportion of respondents that expect gift cards to be cross-channel is fairly consistent across all age groups and increased to 52.9% in 2022, up from 40.8% in 2021 and 26.2% in 2020. This growth in expectations among older generations is thought to be due to learned behaviours from the pandemic, when online shopping became more commonplace.
However, the research still identified a difference in channel preference and popularity between generations.
Almost half (47.7%) of consumers who received at least one gift card during 2022 did so via email, and this figure only increases through the generations. 54.6% of Boomers received an emailed gift card, in contrast to just 35% of Gen Z.
However, Millennials are still the most likely generation to redeem a gift card they received online, as a convenient time-saving solution. Almost half (48%) of Millennials who had received a gift card in the last 12 months redeemed it via a retailer website and 29.8% did so via a retailer app.
Meanwhile, Gen Z consumers were the generation most likely to receive a gift card through social media or messaging platforms (14%). This is expected to increase for all generations in the near future as social media becomes embedded as an even bigger part of our daily lives.
The research also shows that gift cards are being used by some consumers as an easier and safer route to shopping online, especially where consumers aren’t comfortable using debit or credit cards. More consumers bought gift cards for someone else to help the recipient shop online in 2022 at 22.4%, up from 21.6% in 2021.
The increased focus on multi-channel is also reflected across the GCVA membership. 82.9% said purchasing across various channels is either already part of their offer or soon to be included, while 77.1% said the same of redeeming.
In the same context, 77.1% highlighted that allowing gift cards to be usable and storable within mobile wallets is a key area of interest, and 71.4% also mentioned allowing the gifting and redemption of gift cards via mobile apps.
Gail Cohen, director general of the GCVA, commented: “The annual State of the Nation report has demonstrated the continued versatility and resilience of the gift card market. The research shows that the industry is evolving and responding to consumer demands around cross-channel flexibility and developing other digital elements, such as digital wallet integration.
“With the current financial environment creating a backdrop of uncertainty, it will be vital for gift card leaders to listen to the wants and needs of regular gift card shoppers and be ready to adapt where necessary. The number of shoppers seeking more flexible and convenient shopping methods, as well as the proportion of technology-literate and digital savvy consumers across generations, will only continue to grow. As such, cross-channel integration should be a key operator focus moving forward, irrespective of their target market, to ensure they stay ahead and meet ever-evolving consumer demand.”