Convenience has made gift cards a preferred gift for many givers, marketing expert says
Once considered only as a last resort for frazzled shoppers without a clue of what to buy, gift cards are rising in popularity as the preferred gift this holiday season.
A recent American Express Gift Card survey shows that 66 percent of shoppers plan to buy gift cards this holiday season - up from 57 percent last year. More people will buy gift cards than toys, games, music, CDs and DVDs, according to the survey. A University of North Texas marketing expert explains that gift cards are simple, quick and convenient gifts for people living increasingly busy lives.
"All of this technology that was supposed to have made our world simpler has in fact made our world more complex," says Dr. David Strutton, chair of the Department of Marketing and Logistics at UNT. "We're more time-constrained; we're multitasking. Anything that can simplify my buying behavior is going to have a great deal of appeal to me."
Strutton buys gift certificates each Christmas for his staff, saying it ensures equal treatment for each employee.
"It's a simple solution to a lot of my needs," he says.
In fact, some stores are selling gift certificates for other stores, he says. Shoppers at grocery stores and drug stores, for example, can pick up gift certificates for coffee shops and electronics stores.
"It's co-branding - something that has been done for years between various companies and various brands where there's some synergy available," Strutton says. "Well-known brands make customers' decisions easy because customers trust well-known brands. If I could leverage the good name of an existing brand to promote my brand, I would certainly want to do it."