Demographic and Psychographic Profiles of Gift Card Buyers


To provide demographic and psychographic profiles of consumers who buy gift cards (single-brand gift cards, multi-brand gift cards, and open loop prepaid cards such as Visa gift cards), preferably broken down into 3-5 different audience segments based on similarities.
This information will be used in developing audience segments for a brand that sells gift cards to various retailers and in development of an advertising strategy in Instagram and Facebook.

Early Findings

General Insights

Millennials and Gen Z consumers are driving the demand for gift cards in the U.S. for self-use and for gifting purposes.
"People under 65 tend to prefer general-purpose cards, like those from American Express or Visa, which can be used at multiple merchants; while older people "prefer store- or restaurant-specific cards, which may offer a veneer of personalization for what is often considered an impersonal gift choice."
By generation, millennials (aged between 25 and 34) are "fueling a surge in sales of retailer-specific gift cards, which they buy for themselves rather than to give away to others."
By gender, women are driving the sales in retailer-specific gift cards, "with 49% of women reporting they purchased at least one in 2016, compared to only about 40% of men."
1 in 3 males prefer to buy digital cards, and nearly 40% of consumers aged 18 to 35 prefer digital gift cards.

Demographic Profiles of Select Gift Card Consumer Groups

Consumer segments in the gift card market could include:

Card Enthusiasts

  • Age: mid 40s
  • Gender: female
  • Marital status: married
  • Other insights
  • Card enthusiasts "love buying and receiving gift cards," and purchase an average of six gift cards per year.
  • They represent 24% of the market.

Budget Tamers

Age: middle-aged
Gender: male
Marital status: married
Other insights:
Budget Tamers consider gift cards to be a control mechanism in their spending.
They are the most avid gift card purchasers of all consumer groups, representing 16% of the U.S. market, but outspending the average gift card consumer by 37%.

Helpful Husbands

Age: retired
Gender: male
Marital status: married
Other insights:
Helpful husbands are "fairly apathetic toward gift cards," and purchase an average of nearly five gift cards per year often on behalf of their wives, who typically do the shopping, or their children.
This segment makes up 25% of the market.

Convenience Shoppers

Age: late 40s
Gender: female
Marital status: married
Convenience shoppers are shoppers who value the time savings of purchasing gift cards, and will typically buy an average of four gift cards.
This group makes up 17% of the market.

Last Resort

Gender: female
Marital status: married
Last resort consumers are the most reluctant gift card buyers, and buy an average of just over three cards per year, as they consider gift cards as an impersonal gift.
This category accounts for 18% of the market, and spend 38% less than the average gift card consumer.

Summary of Findings
  • During this preliminary hour of research, we found that the publicly available information on the profiles of consumers for gift cards is dated, with available information being over 5 years old. A more recent report that appears to give a breakdown of the gift card consumer by age, gender, and income is behind a paywall. We found and provided the details of a white paper with a breakdown of the different gift card consumers that, although was prepared close to a decade ago, has been quoted in various articles and papers written in the last several years.
  • We have focused on the U.S. market.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Proposed next steps:

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