Happy (Almost) New Year: Your Gift Card Promotion Year in Review


If you’ve been paying attention (or just haven’t been able to avoid our emails, banners and social posts), this is our eighth blog about gift card promotions and planning this year.

First of all, we appreciate your attention. Second of all, we hope you’ve taken some of our advice to heart. As you may remember from Blog #1:

74% of Americans say promotions are a top factor
when deciding where and what to buy online.1

And:

Brands that don’t run gift card promotions
miss out on an average of 37% of annual revenue.2

Clearly, this is a subject that cannot be ignored. So, we thought the best way to prepare you for a successful 2022 is to provide a summary of everything we’ve talked about in 2021. After all, when it comes to planning your promotional calendar, there’s no such thing as starting too early.

Promotion Season Lasts All Year

Our first lesson this year was about planning your promotional calendar as early and as completely as possible. It’s the best way to stay ahead of your company’s budgeting cycle—and the needs of your customers.

There are the big calendar opportunities like Mother’s Day, Graduation, Black Friday and the winter holidays. But, depending on your brand and your goals, you can find opportunities all year long, like Easter, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween.

You can also create your own promotional holidays to generate business during typically slow periods. This is a great time to get creative and surprise your customers with an offer they can’t refuse.

Romance and Revenue

In February, we turned our hearts and our bottom lines to Valentine’s Day. With US spending projected at $22 billion3, Valentine’s Day wasn’t about “should we,” it was about “what should we do.” This is where we got into your different business goals and the types of gift card promotions you could run:

  • Sell more gift cards—try a Give One, Get One promotion.
  • Increase basket size—reward customers for spending at a certain level.
  • Drive more app downloads—a small gift card reward can yield big results.
  • Get customers in-store—give them a reward for picking up online purchases in-store.

Having Fun With a Slow Spring

Spring brings wildflowers, butterflies and other things that don’t make you money. So, we had fun and suggested you create promotions based on appropriate lesser-known holidays, like National Frozen Food Day or Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.

And for no reason (except to entertain ourselves), we even suggested you make a big deal out of International Haiku Poetry Day—but only as an excuse to write this:

The cool spring air brings
Many opportunities
To promote and grow

Mothers and Fathers and Revenue

For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation, we hit you with numbers to encourage you to keep your head in the game4:

Total spending for Father’s Day gifts in 2021
was expected to be $17 billion.

Gift cards are taking a bigger piece of Dad’s pie.
The percentage of shoppers buying gift cards moved
from 21% in 2019 to 25% in 2020.

The point of sharing these numbers wasn’t to get you to shift all your marketing dollars to moms, dads and grads. But if you have the appropriate brand or products, and your promotion budget allows more than a couple programs per year, moms, dads and grads should all make the cut.

Back-to-Spending

The big fall opportunity for promotions revolves around back-to-school. In 2021, back-to-school also meant—for many students—return-to-classrooms. So, there was a nice bump in sales of supplies, clothes and erasers shaped like animals. There was also a nice bump in sales of gift cards.

In fact, total spend for back-to-school was estimated to be 5x that of Father’s Day.

The lessons for back-to-school are similar as those for the rest of your promotional year:

  • People not only love promotions, but they seek them out.
  • People want value; they want more for their money.
  • If you run a promotion and your competition doesn’t, those people will shop with you.

Black Friday, White Christmas

Our latest blog was about made-up events—Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This time of the year, which has grown in length to almost the entire month leading up to Christmas, is not about traditions; it’s about deals. You just have to be out there with something to give your customers what they want.

This holiday season had new challenges, however—shipping delays and out of stocks. Conveniently (for us and you), gift cards—especially virtual cards and eGifts—solve those challenges easily.

In fact, gift cards solve a lot of problems for retailers and shoppers. And it’s all because of one more fact to keep in mind as you work on your 2022 promotional calendar:

For the 15th year in a row, gift cards are
the #1 most requested holiday gift.5

Of course, 2021 isn’t over, yet. Between Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and, even, New Year’s Day, you have an enormous opportunity to attract and serve your last-minute shoppers. These days generate the biggest eGift sales numbers of the year.

So, run a last-minute promotion and grab your share of those last-minute dollars.

Want to Talk About 2022?

It’s been a long year, but things will continue to get better. As you start to work on your promotional plans for the next year, we suggest you talk to the experts to make the most of it. Blackhawk Network is a pioneer in the industry and a worldwide leader in payments and gift cards, but we have a simple goal: To help you and your gift card program have a happy new year.

Click here to get started or call 866.219.7533.


1. RetailMeNot Incrementality Study, 2018

2. Blackhawk Network Data Analysis

3. Statista Research Department, 2021

4. Annual Father’s Day Survey, National Retail Federation, 2020

5. 2021 NRF Holiday Report, 2021

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