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  • Holly Glowaty

13 Fast and Fun Highlights from the 2019 RGCA Forum



The 3rd annual RGCA Forum took place on Sept 30th - Oct 2nd, three jam-packed days at the Sheraton Grand in Phoenix.  The days started off with a ride on the shuttle to get to the conference center, looking out for wild horses and road runners!  Once off that shuttle we were immersed into the world of closed-loop gift card content, interaction and reunion.


The first day was all about gift card essentials. 

Sometimes basic things are overlooked especially because we’re moving too far and fast ahead and it's important to remember the basics.  Some key takeaways from the day's content include:


  • It's not always about revenue for everyone with a gift card.  For some it's about exposure and marketing OR about driving new business to cover customers that lapse over time OR about being competitive in the marketplace.  What’s your reason for having a gift card program?  Depending on that reason/s, can you shift gears toward it with your program to make it even more successful?

  • Know your channels and their contribution to gift card sales- inside the brand vs outside the brand, and within those: plastic vs digital.  Is this what you expected?  What else could be done within the channels, with these current contributions in mind?

  • Get your internal teams/departments involved and on-board with your gift card program: marketing, merchandising, finance, distribution, operations, social media, etc.  This collaboration and support can truly vitalize opportunities.

  • Measuring for Gift Card Program success: be open to new opportunities, assess your goals and objectives (needs to be something you can measure), identify KPIs, customer segmentation, segmentation targeting, testing, data analysis, insights, refine your plan and take next steps!


Tuesday, day two, focused on gift card strategy and growth.

Dom Morea from Fiserv kicked off the day with a keynote: The Role of Innovation in Branded Currency.  It’s all about: Innovation, Optimization and Efficiency. 


“The only thing moving faster than technology is consumer expectations.”  Consumers are craving and seeking out convenience. People want to have FUN with their payments, so we need to elevate the consumer experience.


Then we moved onto the gift card fraud, where a panel of industry experts shared experiences...some of which were really jaw-dropping and eye-opening.  It's no joke how susceptible & vulnerable all gift card programs are to fraud- from major brands to small ecommerce companies.  It is difficult and expensive to catch fraud so prepare as much as possible ahead of time.  Some best practices are:

  • Challenge your 3rd party partners- what prevention tactics are in place and what else can be done, request data to analyze regularly. 

  • Be careful not to negatively affect good customer behavior with fraud prevention.

  • Take charge and implement limits where you can, such as denomination caps, alerts within your fraud analysis tools, etc.

  • Ensure AML & FinCen Compliance.

  • Gift Card packaging is crucial- secure packaging, serial and pin numbers not exposed and control/version numbering.

  • Train employees that interact with customers, to know what to look out for and to learn about what they could do to help prevent fraud.

Gift card fraud is a constantly evolving (as Holly blogged about here) with no end in sight, so find your vulnerabilities and line up a solution/s for each of them ahead of time!


Wednesday, the final day, did not slow down. Content ranged from insight and consumer findings to legal & regulatory updates. A few fun facts about gift card consumers include:

  • The average heavy gift card purchaser buys on average 25 gift cards a year!

  • They are more likely to be women, typically married with children and their household income is 11% higher than average. 

  • They purchase a variety of card types, in both plastic and digital and their average card value ranges from $40-$50.

Other segmented audiences were (loving the creative names SVS!):


“Stephanie & Sam then Millennial Maverns”- they’re gift card fanatics buying 46 gift cards a year with an average load of $37!  They are high earners, appreciate fine things and are mobile users with mobile wallets.


“Digital Darren”- middle aged male that buy 31 gift cards annually.  They are fitness focused, have diverse shopping habits and are brand loyal.


“Taylor the Trendsetter”- single and thoughtful, buying 15 gift cards per year with a load of $34 despite their income of only $39k annually.  They are Apple users, trendy females and gamers.


On Wednesday, the RGCA also announced the winners of their annual Gift Card Games, with our very own Kristen Thiry winning first place! Congratulations to Kristen and the rest of the winners!


Both evenings were full of fun and interactive opportunities with industry friends.  Sitting on hay bales on a horse drawn cart is quite the transportation to an evening of experiences.  Jail time bailing, iron branding on travel tags, axe-throwing, archery, quick draw shoot outs...to name just a few!



Narrowing down three days worth of forum content into a short blog is quite the challenge!  Hopefully you’re able to take away with you some of my key learnings from loads of content. 


Til next time RGCA, thank you!

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