Each year, Blackhawk Network holds a Summit. At this Summit, the companies who sell gift cards through Blackhawk’s network and the retailers who sell those gift cards get together to talk about the state of the gift card industry, what’s new, and how it can continue to grow. For the past five years, AWG has attended this Summit to represent the approximately 1,100 store locations on the 3rd-party gift card program.
The most recent Summit was held May 1-3, 2017. AWG Corporate Marketing Manager, Kate Favrow, and AWG In-Store Marketing Supervisor, Bryan Wright, were present at the event. They had 17 one-on-one meetings with card partners including Google Play, Apple, Domino’s, Best Buy, Petsmart, GameStop, and Bass Pro Shop, just to name a few. During these meetings, the AWG team presented promotional opportunities to the card partners. In the latter half of 2017, AWG Marketing will be running everyday awareness campaigns, including one solely focused on the big birthday month of September, a Back to School buy/get promotion, a Black Friday buy/get promotion, and a Holiday shipper. These promotions have proven extremely effective at driving gift card sales with historic numbers showing a 76% increase in gift card sales for the brands participating.
Also during these meetings, the card partners informed the AWG Marketing team about new card art launches, variable card opportunities, suggested cards not in AWG stores be introduced, and asked for incremental placement on both the Blackhawk planograms and incremental placement throughout the store whether in checklanes or other relevant areas of the store. In some cases, variable cards will be looked at as replacements to fixed denominations cards currently on planograms as they typically increase the card value sold. The AWG team works with Blackhawk and new card partners to evaluate card placements on AWG fixtures. In the past, this mattered much more, as it is optimal that the mapping of the brand’s locations aligns with AWG store locations. As online shopping has evolved though, some planograms contain cards that don’t have close physical locations since consumers are using gift cards to purchase products online. In the weeks following the Summit, AWG will work to secure card partner participation in the promotions so they can either be partially or fully funded.
One morning, four sessions were held for the entire group in attendance. Blackhawk CEO Talbott Roche opened the day with a session titled The Power of Brands. Then, Chairman Bill Tauscher walked through many of the acquisitions and business evolutions in which Blackhawk continues to invest. Not surprisingly, both talks included discussion of gift card’s digital and mobile progression. The third presentation of the morning revolved around the staggering statistics of the gift card industry presented by David Tate, further illustrating the demographics and use that make it a $176B industry. Finally, Bill Taylor from FastCompany closed out the morning with a talk based on his new book: Simply Brilliant How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways.
Overall, it was a productive three days for the AWG team as they return with ideas on how to continue to build the almost $21M business for AWG retailers. Keep an eye out for future promotions, opportunities, and evolutions in the gift card space.