IRF Gift Card Study Provides Insights into the Most Prevalent Non-Cash Award

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The Incentive Research Foundation is pleased to announce the release of "A Closer Look at Gift Cards: U.S. Spend, Support, Sourcing, and Services for Gift Card Programs in Corporate Organizations." Gift cards are the most prevalent award type, with U.S. businesses spending $24 billion on gift cards annually.

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'A Closer Look at Gift Cards' will be an important resource to raise awareness and convey the benefits of working with gift card industry professionals.

The Incentive Research Foundation is pleased to announce the release of "A Closer Look at Gift Cards: U.S. Spend, Support, Sourcing, and Services for Gift Card Programs in Corporate Organizations." Gift cards are the most prevalent award type, with U.S. businesses spending $24 billion on gift cards annually.

The IRF administered a survey to 300 industry professionals who run incentive or recognition programs for their companies. The study reports on how gift cards are sourced for incentive and recognition programs, how much money is budgeted toward them, what types are being purchased, and where opportunities lie for stakeholders.

“While gift cards are the most omnipresent non-cash award in U.S. businesses, the research revealed that one-third of reward and recognition buyers have limited to no awareness that there is an entire industry of gift card suppliers and agencies designed to supply a variety of gift cards to incentive programs,” said Melissa Van Dyke, IRF President. “'A Closer Look at Gift Cards' will be an important resource to raise awareness and convey the benefits of working with gift card industry professionals.”

Key findings in "A Closer Look at Gift Cards: U.S. Spend, Support, Sourcing, and Services for Gift Card Programs in Corporate Organizations" include:

  • Retail locations are the most popular channel for the purchase of gift cards as awards
  • Agencies and gift card suppliers are the least commonly used channels for the purchase of gift cards as awards… however, for those who use them, agencies and gift card suppliers have the highest buyer satisfaction ratings
  • Most U.S. businesses source gift cards from an average of two different channels
  • Gift cards are purchased for rewards and recognition by 69% of medium-sized businesses and 61% of large firms
  • Companies purchase gift cards for an average of 2.5 to 3 different audiences, with employees, followed by sales, being the most frequent audience types
  • In large firms, participant communications (including website, mobile app, etc.) were most commonly outsourced to gift card suppliers
  • Three-quarters of firms use closed-loop (e.g., Starbucks, iTunes) and open-loop (e.g., VISA prepaid) are the most prevalent type of gift cards
  • Use of e-gift cards is increasing, with half of large enterprises and 58% of medium enterprises utilizing them

"A Closer Look at Gift Cards: U.S. Spend, Support, Sourcing, and Services for Gift Card Programs in Corporate Organizations" was supported by IRF Research Advocacy Partner, Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) of the Incentive Marketing Association.

To view or download a copy of the full study, please visit: http://theirf.org/research/a-closer-look-at-gift-cards-us-spend-support-sourcing-and-services-for-gift-card-programs-in-corporate-organizations/2409/

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About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation (TheIRF.org) funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.

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Andy Schwarz
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