Blackhawk Network conducted its first-ever consumer study this year titled, “How America Gives Gifts in 2016.” The survey examined the factors that shoppers consider in gift giving, plans, and preferences for holiday shopping, and the impact that the payment experience has in gift purchasing.

One of the key takeaways from the study revolved around consumers’ affinity for branded value and their intentions to give gift cards this holiday season.

Here are some key revelations from the study:

82 percent of shoppers surveyed look for some type of promotion when purchasing gifts

Roughly six in 10 did some bargain shopping—like comparison shopping—last year

55 percent of consumers surveyed indicate that picking gifts that are a good fit for their recipients is a top priority

42 percent of consumers also say brand is an important factor when giving gifts

Gift giving preferences are also influenced by generation, gender, and household income.

Loyalty360 caught up with Blackhawk Network CMO Teri Llach to learn more about the study.

Does the following stat surprise you at all? “Most (81 percent) also estimating that up to half of their gifts this year could be gift cards. These results align with the importance of brands to consumers, as gift cards are an extension of branded value.”

Llach: This didn’t surprise us. Our entire business is built on the power of branded value. Every day we witness how branded value– like gift cards, digital payments, and loyalty points – can connect consumers with their favorite brands around the world. Through rewarding experiences with branded value, companies are building engagement, loyalty, and sales.

From the gift-giving perspective, it makes sense that shoppers would want to give branded value (in the form of gift cards) to their friends and family. It allows them to pick their favorite brand while giving their recipients the flexibility to choose the specific items that they’d like to purchase.

Apart from our research, the National Retail Federation reports that gift cards are the most requested gifts for the past decade.

Are you surprised that price isn’t the main driving force for gift selection, according to your study?

Llach: We were somewhat surprised, because shoppers are so motivated by price today. However, it makes sense that gift givers would want to put the delight of their recipients above their own budgets. That’s what gift giving is all about. However, even though most shoppers said that picking gifts that are a good fit for their recipients is their top priority (over price), they are still price conscious. Eighty-two percent of shoppers look for some type of promotion when purchasing gifts.

Are you surprised more people favor in-store shopping in a day and age when so many don’t have the time to shop in stores, along with the fact that online shopping is so much easier and convenient?

Llach: It seems that online shopping will continue to be a complement to in-store shopping for some time. Although online shopping offers convenience, I think many shoppers still prefer the in-person experience of seeing, touching and selecting gifts. And online and in-store shopping are both happening at high rates – 91 percent of shoppers said they would shop for gifts in-store this year and 75 percent said they would shop online.

What is your biggest takeaway from the study that marketers should heed for the future?

Llach: When giving gifts, it’s not all about price. Today’s shoppers want gifts that are the perfect fit for their recipients. So when it comes to marketing over the holiday season, focus on how your products will delight recipients, not just on your bargain holiday prices. 

I would also suggest that marketers consider how offering branded value products like gift cards can extend brand engagement. Not only is it reinforcing loyalty with the purchaser, but it creates a new branding and spending opportunity with the recipient. 

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