I gave up. Here’s a gift card.

Around this time of year, gift cards are a big business. A survey by ValueLink estimated that 64% of American adults (139 million people) either bought or received a gift card in 2004, up from just 37 percent in 2002. It’s also estimated that nearly 15% of all holiday sales are in the form of gift cards.

In marketing, gift cards are great. They provide buying incentives for consumers in the doldrum 1st quarter. Sure. The gift card money is already there and you’re just exchanging goods for it. But when someone comes in to use a gift card, they usually spend much more than the value of the card.

But what about the general good taste of gift cards?

I urge you to read this article by MSN Money contributor Liz Pulliam Weston which has some great insight on the social implications of gift cards such as:

A gift, ideally, says, “I thought about you. I considered your likes and dislikes, your needs and wants, your dreams and desires, and found you this token of my esteem that I hope will delight you.”

A gift card says, “There! Checked you off my list.”

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Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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2 comments on “I gave up. Here’s a gift card.
  1. carey says:

    chris, generally I agree with you on this post. However, in some cases, a gift card may just take into consideration the same evaluation that Liz proposes for a gift purchase. When I was in sales, and made a big sale or had a great quarter, I would much rather have received a gift card than a molded piece of plastic with my name on it! Ok, maybe not the same as the holidays, but it might just depend on who your relatives and friends are.

  2. darrin says:

    It’s funny. Everyone I know who gives gift cards feels guilty. They think they’re impersonal. And yet, everyone I know who gets gift cards LOVES them. I know I do. In fact, I beg for them. I get to go buy stuff I want, which may not be available at Christmas. I also get to go shopping for stuff when I’m broke. For instance, I frequently get gift cards for bookstores, which I hold on to and use later in the year when I may not have the cash to buy that new marketing book I really want.

    For some people, receiving a gift card isn’t impersonal, it’s freeing!