How to Consolidate Your Gift Card Program to Promote Cross-Brand Loyalty

As multi-brand operators seek new ways to reach their customers, gift card programs are one way to engage multiple customer bases at once.

In today’s economy, brands have to be flexible — the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the marketplace, and only those that can roll with the changes will be able to survive. For multi-brand operators, this means juggling multiple entities and ensuring each brand is flexible and responsive to changes in the market.

Luckily, there are ways to streamline these efforts. Developing initiatives that engage multiple brands at one time can help your brands reach new customers while engaging an already-existing audience. One initiative that makes this process easy is consolidating individual brands’ gift card programs into one single program. This can save your company time and money.

To get started, here are a few ways to integrate your programs seamlessly and maximize efforts around multiple-brand awareness and sales.

Incorporate a Loyalty Program 

If your brands have been around for a while, chances are they already have a gift card program, as well as a mobile app that helps facilitate a loyalty program. While streamlining your brands into a consolidated gift card program is the first step to easier access for your customers, making it mobile-friendly is the most critical step. Wendy’s, for example, is one of the most recent franchises to capitalize on such a program. Most card-driven services, including credit cards, are going mobile because consumers are able to streamline access to their funds into one space. 

Building a loyalty program into a gift-card-driven app provides consumers the incentive to spend their money with more brands. Statistics show that, more often than not, people spend more than the value of the gift card. If customers are able to tie their gift card purchase to their loyalty account where they earn points per every dollar spent, there is even more incentive to spend over the gift card value. 

A cross-brand gift card and loyalty program also has the ability to track customer spending across different brands. The customer data that an app can provide is invaluable to helping you better segment your customers and target them with offers and incentives to try other brands. 

Develop a Seasonal Strategy

Taking a seasonal approach with a gift card program is another way to incentivize customers to purchase. Encouraging customers to redeem a gift card on a specific date can provide business owners with a rough estimate with how much they will acquire in sales within a specified time period. Starbucks for example, who also just recently enhanced their incentive program, is one of the masters at seasonally driven product marketing.

Focus Brands, a multi-brand provider with whom Givex recently partnered to develop a unified gift card program, will be able to target different demographics through a seasonal approach. For example, their ice cream franchise Carvel is more marketable in the summer for promotions; in the winter, their bakery brand Cinnabon might be more popular as a richer comfort food that’s great with a hot cup of coffee. Because they have a unified program, their customers can take advantage of seasonal promotions under one umbrella program, but they can also keep their gift cards to spend at the store of their choosing when the time comes. This provides flexibility for customers on when they can spend their money, while also driving them to spend it at different times.

This type of strategy helps to build customer retention rates as well; the more customers feel incentivised to visit (in-person or virtually) your establishment, whether it's to spend a gift card, purchase a seasonal treat, or both, the more they will be looking for reasons to come back. Unified gift card programs provide more opportunity to earn points with your favorite retailer or restaurant and this increases brand loyalty. This also provides variety so people don’t feel like they need to eat only ice cream or only burgers to reach the threshold.

Offer Cross-Channel Functionality

The mobile app isn’t the only way technology can be integrated into a cross-brand loyalty program. Gift card redemption widgets can be integrated into your point of sale (POS) system or website, allowing customers to pay with their gift card during the checkout. 

Providing online, in-store, and in-app shopping options makes it easier for the customer to convert to cross-channel gift card redemptions. Not to mention, it fosters purchasing versatility; customers can have the option to choose the item they want when they want it rather than receiving a reward chosen by the brand. The convenience of this alone is a major selling point for a unified gift card program.

In the COVID-19 era, the ability to redeem a gift card in multiple locations is crucial. Unified gift cards programs allow customers spending flexibility and ensure that, should they not want to travel far for retail or food purchases, there are options readily available to them. 

Remember: The idea is to make things as easy as you can for your customers. Unifying your brands onto one program makes it simpler for customers to spend their money while having multiple options. The data that your business can accumulate from such a program can help drive your strategy in the coming months and enhance your ability to meet consumer needs.