Gift cards have become a go-to item for shoppers who are in a hurry or just don’t know what to buy for that special person on their list. It turns out that gift cards are also growing as must-have items for businesses who want to reward employees or curry favor with other businesses. This trend means that marketers may be shifting some of their gift-card promotions to the B2B market.
According to a new report in Chief Marketer, the business market for gift cards is valued at $22.7 billion annually. Over half of businesses are now using cards. While employees are the beneficiaries of gift cards for over 60% of employers, businesses are also using these items to reward channel partners and customers.
Which type of gift cards are most popular in the corporate world? The study cited by Chief Marketer, from Incentive Research Foundation, shows:
- Open loop cards 68% (examples include Visa or Mastercard)
- Closed loop cards 54% (these are for specific retailers like Macy’s or Panera)
- Restricted 12%
- Virtual 14%
Gift card marketers should know that businesses exhibit different buying behaviors based on size. Large companies often form a business relationship with a vendor that can supply several types of cards. For smaller businesses, a trip to a local retailer is the favorite way to procure cards.
Analysts foresee that businesses will continue to buy gift cards at the same or a higher rate in the coming year. Local marketers looking for a way to increase exposure both to businesses and consumers should consider promoting the availability of their gift cards.[Source: Odell, Patricia. Businesses Spend $22.7 Billion on Gift Cards. Chiefmarketer.com. 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013]