Digital Gift Cards

Republished here on: 27 December 2011

Link to the original article in Times of India here

The festive season in December has a unique charm. It’s not only Christmas but also the turn of a new year. Like all such joyful occasions, it’s a season of giving; an opportunity to renew and reinforce bonds, of family, friendship or togetherness. It’s also the time to surprise our loved ones with gifts. But not all of us have the luxury of time and convenience to wind through choked traffic, and trawl crowded markets and malls in search of the perfect present. Cyberspace is a good alternative enabling us to sit in the comforts of your home, and sift through products, review prices and specifications. Gifting online is hassle free. Go to one of the websites, like Woohoo and pick up the favourite card of the desired denomination, enter the shipping address and pay. Websites allow sorting gifts by category, occasion or price. The gift card can also be electronically sent by email. The recipient can redeem the card at the outlet physically or shop online and get the gift couriered. Buyers can customize and add personal messages. These cards have validity period of 3 to 12 months giving recipients liberty to wait to get their gift of choice. May be nothing like personally visiting a friend to give a gift, but given the fact that not all our loved ones are nearby, digital gift cards are fast becoming popular. Online malls have been proliferating as shoppers feel there is more variety in terms of categories, products and prices online. Some of them are: Indiatimes, Ebay, Naaptol, Myntra, Futurebazaar, Tradus, Homeshop18, Indiaplaza; the list goes on. There are also category-specific malls like Flipkart for books or Seventymm for movies. When our loved ones are far away, often our plans to present them a gift remains just an idea, given the hard logistics involved in picking up a gift, getting it packed, and couriered. Digital gift cards, which are popular abroad, are now fast catching on here. One, it gives you the advantages of online shopping; two, it’s easy and quick; and three, it gives the recipient the choice to get himself or herself something that he or she really loves.



The power of choice

It’s my best friend’s son’s birthday .The good part is that I remembered and the bad part is that I am meeting them in five minutes. Absolutely no time to buy a gift ofcourse. I rummage my son’s cupboard for any unopened gifts, but he is now smart enough remove the packaging as soon as he gets a gift. As I am about to give up the search, disappointed at having lost an opportunity to brighten up the 7 year olds special day a little more, I remember that we do have a couple of Landmark gift cards at home. Just as I dig out one, the bell rings announcing their arrival and I sure am mighty pleased with myself. I open the door, wish him and give him the card with a “you can buy whatever you like”. The card is very colorful and I expect him to be mighty pleased (How foolish can I be!!!), but am a little disappointed to see that he is not particularly pleased or excited. The card is soon forgotten as my friend and I get busy with our gupshup leaving the kids to entertain themselves. A few weeks pass before I ask my friend if they had used the card. And then the story unfolds… Sourish (that’s our protagonists name) kept the card on his desk for almost a week, before popping the first card related query to his mother. Simple and basic. Sourish: “What is this?” Mother:”It’s a gift card” Sourish:” What should I do with this?” Mother:”You can choose a gift for yourself from Landmark” Silence …. A week later… Sourish:”Amma, can I buy anything I want with my card?” Mother:”Yes, anything for Rs. 500” Sourish:”Even a toy and a book?” Mother:”Yes, whatever you wish” Sourish:”That means you can’t stop me from buying something because it’s my card?” Now it’s the mother turn to be silent. A week later … Sourish:”From where can I buy my gift?” Mother:”From any Landmark” Sourish:”even Jubilee hills landmark?” Mother:”yes” Sourish:”I can even buy from Chennai when we go for summer holidays?” Mother:”yes” Silence… A week later Sourish:”Lets go and buy my gift” After spending a couple of hours at Somajiguda Landmark and working out various permutations and combinations with toys, gifts and crayons (ofcourse mother had to help with the arithmetic), Sourish decides he would want to check out the jubilee hills Landmark too before buying. A week later, @Landmark-Jubilee hills Sourish:”Amma, I think the other Landmark was better” This is not the end of the story. For all you know Sourish has visited the Chennai store too and still hasn’t found the best deal…but as my friend(exasperated ,as can be expected☺) shared this story to me ,I was so glad that I had given him one of the best gifts –the gift of the choice. He probably didn’t want to redeem the card because he cherished the power of choice that it gave him over anything else that it could buy him. Deep inside, that’s what all of us want- the power to choose. – Uma Menon


The smart new way of gifting takes off in India

Republished here on: 29 November 2011

Link to original article in Indian Express here

Responding to a consumer survey on gifting, a young professional in Gurgaon said: “I’ve always loved buying gifts for others, be it my father, mother, brother, colleagues or friends. But I always found it strange that they never used or seemed to enjoy my gifts! Earlier, I blamed it on their weird taste, but when my boyfriend started doing the same, I couldn’t con myself any more. Now, I play safe and get everyone gift cards instead. So they can choose whatever product they want to buy and I get to see them enjoy it. That’s happiness for both parties.” The young lady is not alone in her happiness. Owing to the new gifting trend that has emerged across the country, gift cards from leading brands are now sold from stores and portals in more than 150 towns and cities and can be redeemed across more than 2,000 premium brand stores. It’s not just different tastes that drive the demand for gift cards. It’s also a question of saving time. Not planning gift purchases in time problem across the world, and India is no different. Gifting is a last-day activity, with more than 70 per cent Indians doing their gift shopping on the last day. With gift cards, there’s help at hand. Gift card usage happens on multiple occasions and for multiple reasons. It could be for gifting to one’s near and dear ones, a way of showing appreciation to team members, a convenient way of managing large corporate staff programmes or simply a way to give children the freedom to buy what they want (without the parents going mad with the choosing process). The late CK Prahlad used to say India could be thought of as a kaleidoscope. With each small twist, India shows up differently. If we focus on one face or angle, we miss a thousand others. With the introduction of gift cards, the big picture is never lost. In India, brands across consumption categories have launched gift card programmes. These include players like Trent-Landmark, Titan, Peter England, Fastrack, Van Heusen, Puma, Raymond, Flipkart, PVR Cinemas, TTK Prestige and Hidesign. And consumers across age groups are biting the bullet. Gift cards have become a preferred option with both brands and consumers for the following reasons: 1. They are convenient to use; 2. They are secure across the desired set of brand outlets; 3. They offer versatile program flexibility; 4. They are attractive in design and offer good badge value in the wallet; and 5. They enhance the association of the brand with gifting. Market research shows that 88 per cent of Indian retail consumers are aware of the concept of gift cards. When questioned, 78 per cent evinced interest in buying such cards—thus making it that much easier for brands to promote their gift card programs to consumers.




Bring on that smile with Gift Cards

Tired of Last minute dash to the nearest toy store or a gift store, wondering what to pick, guessing if your gift would be liked by the kid whom you don’t know, and frustrated in being forced to pick something useful, from the limited choices in the market, due to budget or time constraint…and so goes the list….. Many a times I’ve wondered why we go through it, when heart of hearts we won’t be surprised if all our efforts will just land up being recycled….But we still do it, honestly, I think its to save our face and keep up with the social stigma, nevertheless, in some cases we genuinely care to do so…. and Am sure I am not alone in this ordeal…. Why do we have to feel drained when we ought to be having fun??? That’s the very reason, I turned to gifting giftcards…Nowadays! am not worried in seeing an invite..I love getting one and am ready to have fun!! Also! Won’t you agree when I say- It’s easy to buy gift for a girl as compared to a guy?? Most girls get excited on a simple gift as trivial as a chocolate when its wrapped with an element of surprise!!!!(Well !!! That’s the way they’re made! ) Yet! most guys never get that !! I hear often stories of men over enthusiastically buying a surprise gift for their loved ones but landup surprising themselves at their drastically wrong choice of color or size 😉 For such ’Men from Mars’ giftcards is a savior! They are sure to score brownie points ;-)) Not to forget! It was a rude shock to me that even after 14 yrs people still gift anything under the roof for any occasion without giving a slightest thot!!From Shield with God pics at babyshowers to a fancy car for a 4 yr old girl’s b’day!!! It’s so ridiculous! A giftcard with half the value would have brought a bigger smile to the giftee’s!! There are many such reasons for the need of a giftcard!! I feel the awareness to giftcards should be spread in our society!! I accept it lacks the personal touch at the outset but I feel it’s the best option for both the parties and it truly brings out the very purpose of gifting!!!! Having said that, ‘There are times when you got to shop but for everything else get a Giftcard!!!’ –  Sadiq Ahamed


Gift Cards for Happy Birthdays!

Written by a Happy Mom of a 5-year old) Celebrating a kid’s Birthday is no mean task. A lot of thought goes into deciding the party theme, decoration, menu and party games. This year, i chose colorful papers with my son Aryaman’s picture as invitation card. The Birthday theme was cartoons. The kids were asked to dress up like their favorite cartoon character and a surprise gift awaited the best dressed kid. My 5 year old bundle of joy was brimming with happiness seeing balloons, streamers, cartoon cutouts hung all around. The kid’s game was rather simple and exciting – bursting balloons! The kids went rather wild with joy on getting the surprise gift of candies and chocolates. Finally, time to cut the cake and burst crackers. It looked like another Diwali celebration. Then everybody binged on the special delicacies prepared for the occasion. It was followed by a little dance act with the parents also pushed into it by the kids. And finally after all the kids got tired dancing to the tunes of ‘ALL IZZ WELL’, ‘Gol, Gol, Gol Golmaal’, “Shiela ki Japani” as one of the younger one calls and the clock also clicking 1:00am, it was time to bid adieu. As soon as all the guests left, we intended to go to sleep but Aryaman just could not hold on to his anxiety of opening gifts. So one gift pack after another, he opened them and was elated at receiving toys. He was dumping the clothes gift packs – they don’t excite most kids anyway. And we received a very different gift this time- ‘a PVR gift card ’. The following weekend we decided to use the PVR gift card. Luckily, a kid’s movie Reo was being shown. I was a little anxious that like our previous experience of “Rang De Basanti” we might have to leave the movie mid-way again this time. But I can’t help smiling at what actually happened. My kid not only sat through the entire movie but was also bursting into laughter every now and then. He enjoyed the popcorn though cold drinks are a still no-no with him. All in all, more than the movie I enjoyed watching my kid’s expressions throughout the movie. Later, we played games at the games corner in Forum and had a quick bite at the Transit. Must say, it was a weekend delight and this time no preparation required from my end. So I could just sit back and enjoy. And yeah, through this gift card, many more avenues of watching movies together have opened up. All thanks to ‘The PVR gift card’ and to my friend Pooja for thinking of a different gifting idea. Now gift cards are also my favorite gifting option and I select the type of gift card depending upon the age of the receiver and the occasion of gifting. – Megha Misra


Confessions of a Lazy Gifter!

I don’t like gifting. It’s too much of an effort. I want to give a gift but I dread the experience and outcomes of picking a gift for someone. I feel like a mouse in maze when I wander around the isles of departmental stores, thinking what can be a good gift for my friend. I feel like a over-sized kid when I am in a toy store because my natural tendencies clash with my common sense on what would be a good gift for my kid nephew. I unconditionally submit to my wife on any occasion of gifting. I let my puppy face and credit card do the damage control. However, I am coming across some innovative and cool gifting concepts off late with things like Gift Cards. Besides giving a lazy gifter like me a rather smart looking way of gifting, the packaging options and giftee-friendly features pack a nice punch. If I am a lazy gifter, there are lazy-giftees too to whom the online gift cards give the necessary cardio-workout with all the clicking of mouse while shopping online. Overall, Gift Cards are making me look good and helping me in gifting when I need it the most. – Sadiq Ahamed


Gift Cards are a Game Changer

( Written by a Senior Corporate Executive) Gift cards are the single biggest game changer for gifting in my life. I buy them all the time for friends and family. It is unbelievably convenient as an option on account of its easy availability and the way it opens up choice for the recipient. What fun it is to be given a card carrying a certain value, which one can go to the shops with and buy whatever one likes! Books, Music, Toys, Games, DVDs, Clothes, Jeans, Footwear, home improvement stuff, gadgets, kitchen stuff and so on. I use gift cards for all sorts of occasions including weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries and just regular “feel good” gifting occasions too! It’s also great to have the option to load the gift cards according to the budget one has for any particular occasion and intended recipient! Believe me, it’s a lot of fun to see the myriad options available on packaging – nice innovative, attractive, colorful, sometimes even quirky packs depending on whom you want to gift to as well as the occasion! And the best thing is that one doesn’t even have to leave one’s comfy armchair to buy – simply let your fingers do the walking (via the internet) and buy gift cards for any occasion that is important to you! Can’t be a better way of having fun while gifting! – Shankar Balan


Be Smart …Gift a card!!

These days, one of the most common gift for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions are giftcards. Earlier, during birthday parties people buy the birthday boy or girl whatever comes to their mind or they choose from a less variety of toys without knowing what that child likes. How funny such people are!! They could just get the child a giftcard and he or she could buy something he or she really likes. Sometimes people think giving money in an envelope is the same as sending a giftcard. Well !! that is not true. When the child receives money, he might misplace it or his/her parents may take the money for urgent needs to give the maids, the iron wala or other domestic helpers. This will not be the case with a giftcard. I strongly believe giftcards are better than money or gifts and I would like to conclude by saying I will encourage people to buy giftcards!! – Prithik K


Don’t like it…yet I am gifting with a Gift Card

(Written by an Indian who is back in India after many years living abroad in the US) I am the kind of a gal who likes to gift something nice, which will make the person remember me by. I think that I have great taste or let us settle for good taste. I take pains to find something nice and that obviously means a lot of shopping and running around. I’ll admit that I do like the (window) shopping part of it. It is also a nice opportunity to pickup something for oneself in the process! So, I never really liked the idea of a Gift Card when it surfaced a while ago; those days we dwelled in the USA. We returned to India a few years back and again I was buying toys mostly for the tots on their Birthdays and watches/dinner sets for the Weddings. That kind of became a norm. As my first son grew older, I had to start attending the Upanayanas (thread ceremony). There started all my troubles. I couldn’t buy the traditional gifts (typically silver/gold – not to mention the recent upsurge of the yellow metal) because the pre-teens won’t like them. If I go with the toys/video games, the older generation will give me looks. My husband suggested that I was better off buying a gift card because the kid or the ‘young man’ can choose whatever he likes. So Landmark became the de facto gift card for all the teens. It still is because it has books, games and toys. It may change from Landmark to something as other youth brands like Fastrack have gift cards now. These days my lazy husband also asks me to buy gift cards whenever he has to travel for weddings ‘cause he doesn’t have to lug it around. The other hidden fear factor that I have with these conventional gifts is duplication, especially in weddings. You don’t want your gift to bring out a sighL Recently, I got a bunch of gift vouchers (denomination 500) from the credit card company because of the hefty points that we had accumulated. I was thinking it would have been so much easier if they had given me a Gift Card. I could have carried it in my purse all the time. I didn’t have to worry about the price tags to make sure that the total was a multiple of 500! That was the very first time that I wished for a gift card J Anyway, these days I have compromised and I console myself that the gift card comes with some advantages. It is ok to give them when you don’t know the person well, if you don’t have the time or if you are just lazy. When you are at the receiving end, gift card is any day better than a lousy gift. Don’t get me wrong – the gifter may have the heart in the right place, but the taste may be really lousy. I always have this nagging thought when I buy the gift card – Will they (giftee) remember that they bought that particular item with the gift card I gave? May be or may be not. I am growing up and am slowly realizing that the joy is in giving! –  Mamatha Rao