• Holly Glowaty

How Brands are Making Gift Cards the Star this Holiday Season


It’s no secret—the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most impactful weeks for retailers, and more specifically, for gift card and branded currency programs. These are the weeks that program managers spend all year strategizing and vendors plan for. Each year, it seems that consumers expect more and it’s up to the brands to deliver. But, like the specials offered on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond, not all holiday shopping days are created equal. The same holds true for consumers’ interest in gift cards, and brands are starting to recognize this.


Utilizing the flexibility of branded currency as a part of holiday promotions is one of the easiest ways brands can not only increase awareness and spend, but elevate the customer experience through the holidays and beyond. Now, a week into the holiday rush, here are three stand-out examples of merchants incorporating branded currency as a cornerstone of their holiday promotion plans.

Utilizing the flexibility of branded currency as a part of holiday promotions is one of the easiest ways brands can not only increase awareness and spend, but elevate the customer experience through the holidays and beyond.


H&M: Front and center in brick and mortar



During a time when window display real estate is at a premium, H&M is ensuring that gift cards are on top of consumers’ minds—and making them an even easier yes by promoting a special holiday initiative to donate 5% of gift card purchase amount to the Children’s Health Fund.




Ulta: Driving digital



Spend and get offers are staples for many merchant holiday strategies. What sets Ulta apart is the digital-first nature of the promotion on their homepage for Cyber Monday—

”Free $20 eReward Card for every $100 online purchase of Ulta Beauty Gift Cards or eGift Cards”. By including this promotion in prime digital real estate, indicates how much the company supports and values gift card.




Outback Steakhouse: As seen on TV



Outback Steakhouse’s holiday promotion is a classic bounce back promotion—the consumer spends a specific amount and receives a credit to return at a later date, often with a minimum spend required to redeem the credit. Bounce back offers are common for gift card programs, but highlighting them on TV is a trend that’s only recently started to develop.



While these three examples are forms of tried and true promotions, the timing and diverse placement of the promotions are the standout elements. Historically, merchants viewed gift cards as a simple and safe option for consumers needing a last minute gift. By releasing promotions early in the holiday shopping season in multiple channels, it’s clear that brands are starting to view gift cards as a core item on consumer shopping lists and an even bigger part of their holiday plans.


With the continuously shifting and growing consumer expectations, it’s essential to keep up to date on the latest trends and capabilities for your gift card program. Flourish Conference: The Art of Branded Currency is the must-attend event for anyone looking to capitalize on the capabilities of gift card and loyalty. Be sure to secure your spot and register now so your brand can stand out in Holiday 2019.


Have you seen any standout gift card strategy this season? Let me know in the comments!

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About Flourish and K+H Connection

The Flourish Conference is a conference focused on promoting gift card strategy and more. Flourish is produced by K+H Connection, a leading boutique gift card consulting firm supporting specialty, ecommerce, and premium merchants who are ready to see their brands grow utilizing the power of branded currency.  Learn more about K+H Connection.

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