National Survey Reveals Online Gift Cards Poised to Take Flight this Holiday Season

Until recently, the vast majority of all gift cards were purchased in person, in stores and were made of plastic. Today’s release of the 2009 Pre-Holiday Online Shopper Gift Card Survey revealed that this hugely popular gift category is beginning to experience a sea change as more consumers buy gift cards online and retailers offer improved online gift card experiences for consumers. The survey of U.S. online shoppers was conducted in October 2009 and was sponsored byCashStar, Inc.

The survey data revealed that 68 percent of online shoppers agree that buying a gift card online that can be sent via e-mail is more convenient than having plastic cards shipped to the gift card recipient. And 80 percent of online shoppers indicated that if their favorite store or restaurant offered a personalized online gift card on their website, they would be more likely to purchase an online gift card from that retailer.

Personalization Key to Gift Card Success
Online gift cards are at an inflection point and, as the survey revealed, a key variable for success is personalization. Half of all respondents said they have decided against giving gift cards in the past because they were not personal enough. Eighty five percent (85%) of online shoppers who are planning to give gift cards this holiday season expressed interest in purchasing personalized online cards that can be sent via e-mail. Seventy percent (70%) reported that the ability to personalize a gift card is of importance to them.

Incentives More Important than Ever to the Online Shopper
An overwhelming 88 percent of online shoppers indicated that they would be more likely to purchase a gift card that has an incentive attached (i.e. send a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card for yourself). CashStar CEO David Stone comments, “Delivering compelling offers and incentives is much easier in the digital marketplace for retailers, as fulfillment is much less expensive and is immediate. And savvy retailers understand the benefit of offering a $10 incentive card to drive traffic to the store or site, where the consumer typically spends 60 percent more than the card’s face value.”

Other Survey Findings

  • Print-at-home is becoming increasingly popular. Survey respondents print the following at home: coupons (70%), boarding passes (48%), concert/movie tickets (30%) and gift cards (14%).
  • Online shoppers interested in ‘green’ alternatives. More than half (56%) of respondents said they are more likely to purchase online gift cards because they are better for the environment than petroleum-based plastic cards.
  • Gift cards remain popular choice this holiday. A third of consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online than they did in 2008 and 40 percent plan to give gift cards (of that number, 70 percent plan to give between two and five gift cards this year).
  • Siblings and friends top gift card recipient list, while restaurants top gift card category. Online shoppers revealed that their top gift card recipients are siblings (48%) and friends (45%). Restaurants topped the gift card category list with 59 percent of online shoppers planning to give restaurant gift cards. General retail and consumer electronics were close behind with 56 percent and 35 percent respectively.

Editor’s Note: To receive a full copy of the 2009 Pre-Holiday Online Shopper Gift Card Survey results, please contact Keri Bertolino at

About the 2009 Pre-Holiday Online Shopper Gift Card Survey
The 2009 Pre-Holiday Online Shopper Gift Card Survey is a national survey designed to provide insight into the holiday gifting behavior of online shoppers. The survey was conducted in October 2009 via Zoomerang, an online survey services provider, and is based on 800 respondents (43% male, 57% female). The survey is sponsored by Portland, Maine-based CashStar, Inc. A Research Brief providing detailed information on the findings is available at the CashStar website at

About CashStar, Inc. CashStar is the preferred digital gifting and incentives partner for retailers nationwide. These retail brands leverage CashStar to easily and securely integrate digital gifting strategies to increase sales and customer loyalty. CashStar offers consumers an unmatched personalized eGift experience via email, mobile and social channels. It is the only company to successfully combine an on-demand B2C and B2B digital gifting and incentives platform with innovative multichannel marketing strategies. More than 250 brands are successfully partnering with CashStar to drive incremental sales, increase retention and boost profitability including Best Buy, Chili’s Grill & Bar, CVS/pharmacy, Gap, Pottery Barn, QVC, Staples, Starbucks, T.G.I. Friday’s, The Home Depot, and Williams-Sonoma. To learn more about how CashStar is constantly innovating the way businesses deliver personalized gifting experiences to consumers and partners in the digital world, please visit or e-mail


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