If you are looking for gift ideas for the millennials on your holiday list, take a peek at the apps on their phones. A recent study by the Mercator Advisory Group shows loyalty rewards and incentive programs on retailer apps are fueling millennial interest in gift cards.
“As retailers introduce new mobile apps, often with mobile payment options that include their retailer prepaid cards, young adults begin to buy retailer cards for their own use,” reported study author Karen Augustine. “So the cards are becoming a primary payment tool and not just used as gifts.”
The lure of loyalty programs
The study included over 3,000 adults in the United States and showed a growth in prepaid and retailer-specific cards, particularly among customers 25 to 34 years old. Nearly three in five in this age group reported buying retailer-specific gift cards in the past year, up from less than half in 2015.
“I load money into Starbucks and Dunkin apps because you get free food and drinks every few purchases,” said Sam, a 26-year-old Boston resident. “It makes sense.”
While millennials were among the first to embrace retail mobile apps, studies show that these apps are growing in popularity with smartphone users of all ages. An April 2016 survey by comScore Custom Survey showed that 21 percent of U.S. smartphone users currently have between six and 10 retailer apps on their phones, a 3 percent jump from just six months earlier.
The features of a great gift card
If you are planning to gift retailer-specific cards this holiday season, there are several factors to consider:
- Favorite merchants. Consider whether your giftee shops at the retailer. While young millennials (ages 18 to 24) came up on top of a recent Bankrate survey of those most likely to favor gift cards at the holidays, you want the card to be used.
- Mobile apps. Does the person you are gifting use retailer apps? If so, check to see that the merchant you are considering has a mobile app. Many don’t.
- Seamless uploading. Find out if the plastic stocking-stuffer card can be seamlessly loaded onto the retailer’s app.
- Dollar amount. Be sure that your gift can be used without having to pony up more money. A fifty dollar gift certificate to a high-end furniture store might not be the best gift choice.
If you are stumped for gift card ideas, WalletHub recently published its 2016 list of best gift cards. Fifty gift cards are compared by popularity, shipping fees, average buyer discount, average resale value, and retailer rating. Target, Netflix and Walmart cards came out on top, with Zara and Etsy rounding out the bottom of the list. It’s an interesting resource sure to spark some gift ideas.
Use it or lose it
Finally, if the millennial on your gift list is someone close to you, encourage them to use the gift. The National Retail Federation reports that Americans will spend $27.5 billion on gift cards this year, and nearly $1 billion of that total will not be redeemed. When the holidays are over, make a date to use the card.
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