InComm, a prepaid product and transaction services company, has released research highlighting consumer shopping trends for purchasing digital and physical gift cards from websites and mobile devices. Of the consumers surveyed, 67 percent have previously bought a gift card from an online website or mobile website/app, while 33 percent have not. Respondents answered questions about their purchasing habits and their intentions for purchasing gift cards from websites and mobile devices — as well as digital cards specifically this holiday season and beyond. Highlights include:

  • 88 percent agree they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, with 77 percent likely to purchase at least one digital gift card;
  • of those who intend to purchase gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps this holiday season, 20 percent plan to purchase more than five gift cards;
  • 40 percent prefer to have a digital gift card scanned from their phone rather than carry an email printout;
  • Nearly 70 percent strongly agree that they are more interested in purchasing digital gift cards now than they were two to three years ago; and
  • Nearly 20 percent of those who have purchased gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps purchase five to seven cards annually.

Purchasing physical vs. digital gift cards

Of those who have bought a gift card from an online website or a mobile website/app, 36 percent have purchased a physical gift card, while 33 percent have purchased a digital gift card and 31 percent have purchased both. A digital gift card was defined as a card that is emailed to the recipient, and a physical gift card defined as a traditional gift card that is shipped to the recipient. When asked how many gift cards they purchase from online websites or mobile websites/apps annually, respondents answered:

  • 29 percent purchase one gift card
  • 36 percent purchase two to four
  • 19 percent purchase five to seven
  • 9 percent purchase eight to 10
  • 8 percent purchase more than 10

When deciding whether to purchase a digital gift card or a physical gift card, nearly 40 percent state that it depends on who they’re buying the card for. In fact, 87 percent prefer to have the option to purchase either a physical gift card or a digital gift card when purchasing gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps.

2013 holiday intentions

Eighty-eight percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that they’re likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app this holiday season, while 77 percent strongly agree or agree that they are likely to purchase at least one digital gift card. 

Participants were asked how many gift cards they intend to purchase from online websites or mobile websites/apps this holiday season:

  • 9 percent are likely to buy one
  • 48 percent are likely to buy two to three                            
  • 23 percent are likely to buy four to five
  • 21 percent are likely to buy more than five                          

2014: Digital and mobile are on the rise

Beyond the holidays, 82 percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that they are likely to buy at least one gift card from an online website or mobile website/app in 2014, while about 75 percent agree that they are likely to buy at least one digital gift card.

Nearly 70 percent strongly agree or agree that they are more interested in purchasing digital gift cards now than they were two to three years ago. Also, 46 percent are interested in storing digital gift cards on their phones, and 40 percent prefer to have a digital gift card scanned from their phone rather than carry an email printout if they were to receive a digital gift card.

Respondents answered the reasons that they have purchased digital gift cards:

  • 62 percent said instant delivery             
  • 42 percent said easier to send
  • 32 percent said easier and quicker for me to purchase
  • 28 percent said are a cool gift to give   
  • 26 percent said easier to redeem                          
  • 21 percent said environmentally friendly                           
  • 21 percent said harder to lose
  • 18 percent said recipient prefers digital gift cards  

Gift card shopping behavior

Respondents were asked which types of merchants do they purchase from/for when they purchase gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps: 

  • 54 percent answered restaurants and casual dining
  • 44 percent answered department stores
  • 35 percent answered online-only retailers
  • 32 percent answered entertainment (music, movies)
  • 31 percent answered electronics
  • 30 percent answered coffee shops
  • 24 percent answered fast food
  • 21 percent answered grocery
  • 18 percent answered home improvement

Also, 54 percent of respondents place between $25 and $49 on a gift card that they purchase from an online website or mobile website/app, while 20 percent place between $50 and $74. Asked who they purchase the gift cards for when they buy from online websites or mobile websites/apps, 83 percent said relatives, 50 percent said friends, 42 percent said themselves and 15 percent said co-workers.

Respondents stated which features/capabilities are important to the purchasing experience when buying gift cards from online websites or mobile websites/apps:

  • 69 percent said security                             
  • 40 percent said the ability to personalize the message                
  • 40 percent said a variety of designs to choose from (birthday, holiday, etc.)                     
  • 57 percent said a variety of denominations available    

All respondents were surveyed online in November 2013.

Read more about consumer behavior.

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