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How good are you at gift shopping?

If you got every birthday or Christmas present spot-on last year, congratulations! But the truth is that we’re not always that good at hitting the mark when it comes to choosing well for other people – even our nearest and dearest.

Logistics Consultancy LCP has estimated that £17 billion-worth of goods was bought online in the 2017 Christmas shopping period (Black Friday until Boxing Day), and 15-25% of those goods would be sent back to the retailer: that’s £2.5 billion in unwanted items. While Royal Mail predicted that ‘Takeback Tuesday’ in 2018 would be double 2017’s volume. And none of that includes bricks-and-mortar figures.

So if we’re not very good at choosing the right gifts (in the right size) for people we know and love, how can we possibly aspire to select the right rewards that will connect our brands with individual employees, or even consumers we’ve never met? Emotional engagement with the audience is essential if we want to truly recognise, demonstrate appreciation and generate loyalty – and an irrelevant reward will have the opposite effect.

It’s time to step back from making reward decisions on behalf of your target audience.

It's all about choice

As children, many of us dreaded opening presents from elderly aunties and grandparents while they were there to see us do it. Would it be toiletries again, socks or another obscure jigsaw puzzle?  It was always much more exciting (and a relief) to receive cash in an envelope or a gift voucher. The trouble with cash, though, was that it disappeared quickly - easily frittered away in the local newsagents on sweets and comics. Vouchers were, in the long run, much better. Before finally persuading an adult to take us to where it could be spent, we could experience the joy of anticipation and spend it six times over in our head - so when we did eventually hand it over the counter, it was more likely to be for something we really wanted.

Gift vouchers have evolved since Boots the Chemist pioneered stamp-like ‘gift tokens’ in the 1930s. Our Bonusbond voucher was the first ever multi-store offering, launched in 1972, and by the early 80s pretty much every big retailer was issuing gift vouchers. Now, thanks to payment technology innovations made by our parent company, Blackhawk Network, you can buy gift cards for all kinds of brands in your local supermarket. We also partner with big brand names to produce other multi-brand themed gift cards (known in the trade as ‘curated content’ or ‘original content’), such as Kids Choice, Cycle Choice and The Restaurant Choice.

Many of our clients are now opting to incentivise, reward or compensate customers using their own branded prepaid cards – extending the brand experience and delivering choice at the same time.  Then there are rebate cards, which we provide as a money-saving employee benefit at no cost to participating organisations.

Yet some things haven’t changed at all. The delight of receiving a treat to spend on yourself – and on what you want – is still important. Not receiving cash is just as important as it ever has been – however old you are, it all still tends to get tucked away in your wallet and swallowed up in unmemorable ways. The deliberation on how you will spend that reward is still just as much fun. And the ‘trophy value’ of any reward (and the positive association with your brand) will transfer to whatever you buy with it.

You CAN please everyone all the time

Choice is the best option. When it came to what kind of reward they would choose, 65% of consumers chose a gift card over other rewards at all values.

Source: 2017 CINT survey on behalf of Grass Roots, sample size 1525.

There’s no doubt that offering choice is one of the biggest factors in the success of a reward or incentive programme. People want the freedom to have what they want. Yes, segmentation helps, but the woman in her fifties is unlikely to choose the same reward as a Millennial male (unlikely, but not impossible). And of course, one Millennial male is not – just because he is a Millennial – going to choose the same as another in the same segment.

Offering a broad spectrum of choice means you can cater right down to a segmentation of one.

Which will you choose?

The current reward market is all about choice. Choice of mechanism, choice of channel, and of course – choice for the recipient. Here’s a quick top-line round-up to help you work out the best choice-based solution for your next reward or incentive programme, with or without targeting and segmentation.

Pure® card
  • Extend the brand experience with the closest thing to cash
  • A reward card suitable for high-volume customer rewards – ideal as a gift-with-purchase incentive for goods and services
  • Can be used as a compensation/thank you/goodwill gesture (replacing any need for BACS or cheques)
  • Provides you with feedback and insight showing where rewards are spent
  • Can be branded to suit your programme – promoting a longer-term connection with the recipient (your brand in their hand)
  • Is also available as a popular employee benefit that gives your people rebates on their shopping from top retailer partners (no cost to businesses of all sizes)
  • An eCode that can be emailed or printed onto a card (or item!) and posted to the recipient, who can then redeem it online for the reward of their choice
  • Can be personalised to the recipient, and branded to your programme
  • Can also be tailored to a more limited range of brands to suit a segmented audience
  • Provides you with feedback and insight showing where rewards are spent
  • Ideal for large audiences; for repeatedly issuing regular rewards; and for when a quick turnaround is needed – redemption can happen within hours, especially if the recipient chooses a digital reward and spends it online straight away
Bonusbond® multi-store gift card
  • Can be spent at over 70 top brands at over 16,500 outlets across the UK
  • Ideal for ad hoc/on-the-spot rewards, or used as an incentive (can be purchased and held in stock)
  • Card carriers can be branded to suit your company or programme name
Other multi-brand cards
  • ‘Curated content’ cards bringing together retailers/brands around a single theme
  • Ideal for a specific demographic (such as cyclists), or specialist areas (such as wellbeing)
  • Includes The Restaurant Choice, Spafinder Wellness 365, Cycle Choice, Kids Choice
We’re also one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of single-brand gift cards, vouchers and digital codes, often at less than face value. These can be ideal where a single brand really will fit the bill, and for those employees who prefer a traditional approach (or who don’t go online often). Access to our online voucher store is also available as an employee benefit extra, and as part of our online reward catalogue/points platform.

So no matter how diverse your audience is, the only decision you need to make about reward is which mechanism you will choose to suit you and the people you want to connect with – and that’s where we come in.

Leave the delivery up to us, and the fun bit up to them!

For more detailed information on choosing the right incentives and rewards for your programme and your target audience, please get in touch.

Posted: 1/31/2018 3:00:00 PM | with 0 comments
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  • Corporate Gifts
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