How to Maximize Holiday Revenue with Targeted Promotions

Align Promotions with Consumer Preferences to Drive Customer Acquisition and Sales this Holiday Season

Research shows that consumer purchase decisions are significantly influenced by promotions, with 63 percent of consumers reporting that a promotion closes the deal if they are wavering or undecided about making a purchase.1 This influence is even more important during the holiday season when one in five gifts purchased are unplanned impulse buys and about a quarter are based on a product category without something specific in mind.2 As such, a key part of maximizing revenue during the holidays is ensuring that your promotional strategy is in line with consumer preferences to help drive conversions.

Recent research from NAPCO and Blackhawk Network looked at consumer preferences and retailer strategies to determine how best to align the two.3 One of the major takeaways from the research is that although the consumers surveyed prefer gift/promotional cards to coupons by a ratio of nearly two to one, retailers continue to favor coupons as their promotional program of choice.4 In fact, 47 percent of retailers surveyed focus on coupons compared to just 25 percent that focus on gift/promotional cards, representing a serious missed opportunity.5 Further, retailers may be surprised to learn that one in five consumers surveyed have an unfavorable impression of retailers that send coupons.

Why the disconnect? In an increasingly digital world, consumers shop across a number of devices and according to the NAPCO/Blackhawk Network research, only 35 percent of U.S. retailers surveyed believe they have a strategy in place to manage prices and promotions effectively across all channels. This changing landscape makes it difficult for retailers to accurately measure which marketing vehicles are making an impact and driving sales.

Attracting new customers

Want to encourage new customers to try your brand for the first time this holiday season? The NAPCO/Blackhawk Network study found that surveyed consumers feel more positively about retailers who send gift/promotional cards rather than coupons and are twice as motivated to use those cards. And while retailers typically understand this preference when it comes to loyal shoppers, many underestimate the preferences of infrequent and first-time consumers for this type of incentive. In fact, the biggest disconnect between consumer preferences and retailer promotion programs occurs with consumers who have never shopped with the retailer before: 60 percent of these consumers prefer gift/promotional cards, but only 34 percent of retailers surveyed use them as their primary promotion program.

Furthermore, when consumers who have never shopped at the retailer before were asked about their preference for gift/promotional cards versus coupons, 50 percent of respondents described themselves as “very motivated” to use gift/promotional cards, while just 25 percent were “very motivated” to use coupons.

Aligning expectations

Better alignment between consumer preferences and retailer’s promotion strategies can be a significant factor in consumers choosing one retailer over another this holiday season. A well-informed and well-executed promotion program that incorporates gift/promotional cards can help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors, appeal to consumers, attract new customers and drive sales. Retailers that plan promotion programs to include gift/promotional card incentives are likely to be rewarded with growth in their customer base and their top and bottom lines.


To learn more about the NAPCO/Blackhawk Network findings, download the full report here.


Deloitte 2017 Holiday Survey” was an online survey conducted by an independent research company on behalf of Deloitte in September 2017. The sample size included 5,085 consumers aligned with the US Census for age and income.
2 “Deloitte 2017 Holiday Survey” was an online survey conducted by an independent research company on behalf of Deloitte in September 2017. The sample size included 5,085 consumers aligned with the US Census for age and income.
Consumer vs. Retailer Promotional Preferences” was a research report issued by Blackhawk Network in January 2017.
4 “Consumer Promotional Preferences” was part of an online survey conducted by Libran Research & Consulting on behalf of Blackhawk Network in March 2016. The sample included over 800 respondents ages 18-60.
5 “Retailer Promotional Preferences” was an online survey conducted by NAPCO on behalf of Blackhawk Network in November 2016. The sample included 64 respondents.