The State of Consumer
Gift Card Preferences in 2018



The purchase of gift cards is as strong as ever. With their mass appeal and seemingly endless range of options in physical, digital and mobile, there are many new and evolving ways for brands and organizations to consider using gift cards to engage with their audiences. Our 2018 Consumer Gift Card Preferences report* outlines the latest gift card trends and how you can apply them to your gift card strategies and programs this year.

Who Buys Gift Cards?

of consumers surveyed have purchased a gift card, either for themselves or for someone else



have purchased a gift card for themselves


have purchased a gift card for someone else


have bought gift cards from a 3rd party (ex. Gift Card Mall or grocery store)


of respondents prefer to buy directly from the retailer/brand

Who Tends to be a Gift Card Purchaser?


Demographically, gift card purchasers tend to be:

Purchasing Trends




of consumers surveyed use gift cards they’ve received right away

of those surveyed report purchasing gift cards for themselves in order to earn points like airline miles, loyalty, fuel or credit card points

of consumers surveyed usually spend more than the card’s value

Interest in Digital Gift Card Options Continues to Grow

of consumers surveyed report being interested in giving or receiving digital gift cards that can be added to a mobile app or digital wallet, especially:



are interested in giving


are interested in receiving a digital gift card



(59% and 57%) are nearly

3x more likely

to express interest than those without a smart phone (17% and 21%)

Despite growth in digital, physical gift cards are still strong and in many cases preferred. The biggest opportunity for digital growth lies with targeting  younger generations that are more willing to adopt digital forms.

Consumers and Employees Prefer Gift Card Incentives


of consumers surveyed report purchasing gift cards for themselves in order to earn airline miles, reward, loyalty, fuel or credit card points

8 in 10

consumers surveyed find promotions involving physical gift cards are more influential when it comes to purchase decisions than other options like bonus ‘dollars’, coupons and digital gift cards



of consumers surveyed report that gift cards would keep them engaged in a loyalty program over other options like merchandise, discounts and airline miles

of employees surveyed would like to receive a gift card as a reward from an employer, compared to 73% that would prefer a cash incentive

Recipients that receive gift cards as employee rewards, rewards for purchase or rebates are likely to use them for themselves. Engage your audiences with gift card rewards and promotions that are seamless to use.


Embracing the Future of Gift Cards

Allowing consumers to seamlessly make purchases in the environments or on the social platforms they use regularly with contextual commerce is one way the gift card industry is changing.


Consumers—particularly Millennials—have strong interest in participating in contextual commerce.

When asked about a gift card sent via a social media platform,

of 18- to 34-year-old consumers surveyed would be interested in receiving a gift card through a social platform, like Facebook, and



would be interested in giving one.



Consumers have come to expect personalized experiences in many facets of their lives—shopping and gift giving included. The biggest opportunity for growth in both physical and digital gift cards lies with taking personalization to the next level.


Between 30 and 40% of consumers surveyed would spend more on a gift card for personalization options, regardless of whether the personalization is a message, gift wrap, video or photo.

of consumers surveyed feel a personal message in a greeting card or a gift card personalized with their own message makes a gift feel more thoughtful.


Consumers surveyed are also interested in giving and receiving a variety of gift card innovations, including:


Start integrating the gift card innovations that make sense for your gift card strategies and programs now. Early adopters are defining the gift card experiences of the future.

Gift cards that allow them play the lottery


Gift cards for a variety of local restaurants

Gift cards for multiple brands within a specific category

*“2018 State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences” is an internet-based survey conducted independently by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network in March 2018. The sample size included 3,030 American respondents ages 18+.