Earn Your Degree in Advanced Graduation Gift Card Promotions


Chances are, you’re not in school anymore. So, we won’t make you write a thesis filled with sourced statistics and tips on how to create advanced graduation gift card promotions.

We already wrote it, and this is it. Hope we get a good grade.

Promotions 101

Since you may be new to our class, or just auditing this one blog, let’s begin with a few promotions basics:

• Promotions have been around forever. In 1895, C.W. Post Co. used a penny-off coupon to help sell its new Grape Nuts cereal brand. Brands, retailers and shoppers have been hooked ever since.

• Shoppers search out promotions. In fact, 74% of Americans say promotions are a top factor when deciding where and what to buy online.1

• Gift card promotions work better than discounts. Now that gift cards are a mainstay of our retail culture, research shows brands that don’t run gift card promotions miss out on an average of 37% of annual revenue.2 Plus, when you discount your products, you run the risk of discounting your brand, as well.

• Promotions aren’t just for the winter holidays. The ideal situation is to have a well-thought-out promotion calendar ready to go at the beginning of every year. This will keep you ahead of your company’s budgeting cycle, and ensure you line up redemption windows with your known slow periods.

The Best Times to Run Promotions

Depending on your industry, your brand and your customers, these are typically the big promotional calendar opportunities:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Graduation
  • Back-to-School
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Winter Holidays

In addition, there are dozens of other holidays that could work for you. Or you can zig while your competition zags and have fun with some sillier excuses to bring in customers, like:

  • Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
  • International Day of Awesomeness
  • National Puppy Day
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
  • International Haiku Poetry Day

Is Graduation Right for You (and Vice Versa)?

Gifting for graduation reached an all-time high in 2021, according to NRF projections. Total expected spending was projected to reach $5.9 billion, with an average spend of $119 per person. With more people leaving the house (and seeing other people), these numbers should only go up in 2022.

For many companies, this may be reason enough to jump into the graduation gift card promotion pool. But you might need to dig a bit deeper.

To really understand what kinds of graduation gifts people like to give (and get), we did our own research3, which revealed many insights that will help you determine if a graduation promotion is right for you:

Again, gift cards are better.

Rather than getting a gift they won’t like, most graduates would rather just get a gift card and make their own choices. What does this mean for you? Focus your graduation promotion on gift cards, and you win.

More will spend those gift cards on necessities vs. luxuries.

What does this mean for you? If your brand is more practical than whimsical, you should seriously consider running a graduation promotion.

Gift cards necessities

The preference for choice increases with the dollar amount.

For small gift amounts, grads are happy with a single-brand gift card. The larger the card value, however, the more grads want flexibility in spending. What does this mean for you? The larger your promotional offer, the more choice you should provide.

gift cards preferences

Use a Cheat Sheet

For more graduation gifting insights, check out our Graduation Gifting Guide (Coming Soon). It will give you the answers you need to pass the graduation gift card promotion test.

Your Final Exam: Have a Conversation

The best thing you can do to complete your degree in advanced graduation gift card promotions is to talk to a Blackhawk Network expert. So, if you have any questions about graduation—or promotions throughout your promotional calendar—let’s have a conversation.

Just click here to get started or call 866.219.7533.


1. RetailMeNot Incrementality Study, 2018

2. Blackhawk Network historical data

3. Graduation Gifting Guide, Blackhawk Network, 2022

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