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Various Gift Cards in a Pile

It’s A Gift Card Kinda Party

Hooray, 2018 is here! 2017 feels like it went quicker than a Scaramucci tour in the White House. Even though retrospective perception of time seems like a flash of light, that doesn’t mean much did not occur. The retail world is a constant day after day battle of retaining customers, attracting new and staying ahead of competition. It takes a conscious effort to take a look back at events, accomplishments and glance ahead, so here is a 500-word 3-minute snapshot. We all got our You Know What’s handed to us over the last couple years by EMV (Europay, MasterCard & Visa), yep those little chips embedded in credit/debit cards. Thanks to the EMV compliance mandate thousands of businesses suffered losses from the shift in fraud liability. What happens is repugnant no-good swindling victimizers take stolen credit cards or card information and purchase as many gift cards as possible. Why gift cards? Because they are a form of currency, and are basically cash. By the time a card owner realizes they have become a casualty, the thief already has untraceable funds.…

A Look Ahead to 2018

Attracting and retaining consumers to independent retail brick and mortar locations didn’t get any easier in 2017, but as we look ahead to 2018, there’s good news for retailers in the grocery space. Programs are evolving, consumers are becoming more educated, and manufacturer partners have more ways than ever to help independent retailers compete with the biggest players in the industry. Here’s a look at what AWG Marketing/Advertising will be focusing on in 2018: Online Shopping Retailers both large and small are jumping into online shopping in efforts to bring consumers convenience. Online shopping providers continue to introduce features that consumers want such as shopping directly from a weekly ad, recipe integration with shopping lists, and suggested items based on past purchases. Providers are integrating with other digital media companies, streamlining the use of frequent shopper programs, digital coupons, and email. Their diversifying their offerings with supplemental services like meal kits and offering special discounts to help retailers participate. Plus, AWG Marketing continues to pursue online shopping program extensions that offer deliver and algorithmic manufacturer offers based on a customer’s…

Presenter on stage at Blackhawk Network Summit

Inside the Blackhawk Network Summit

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…

Photo of clipboard with check list.

What to do? Evolving Your Traditional Marketing

With all the different ways of marketing to consumers these days, retailers sometimes have a hard time knowing where to spend their money. We all know that as the options for marketing expand, the amount of money to spend on them stays the same. With vendor funding evolving as well, sometimes this bucket of money to spend on marketing is even shrinking. This leaves retailers asking the question: What should I do? Have a website. If you don’t have a website in 2017 consumers might wonder if you’re even in business. Google processes 3.5 Billion searches each day. It’s the default way people find information. If you don’t have a website, you aren’t helping consumers find you or information about your store. Sharlyn wrote a blog post about why you need a website, you can find it here. Whether you already have one or need one, make sure it is mobile responsive, optimized for search and gives your brand authenticity, Google and other search engines care about all those things when showing search results to consumers. Participate in rebate signage…

Slide with global, mobile, big data, connected consumer, 24/7, POS, personalization, predictive analytics, instant gratification

Consumer & Technology Trends

As a $20B industry, prepaid gift cards continue to be not only a significant component of the way consumers shop for themselves and their friends and family, but also a very important addition to an independent grocery store’s suite of service offerings. At a recent conference put on by Blackhawk Network, this industry was dissected and broken apart, but not before considering the overall trends in consumer preferences and technology. Some of these trends are impacting the gift card industry directly already, while others provide a backbone to the way marketers need to think. Talbott Roche, President of Blackhawk Network presented these trends in her keynote address. Connected 24/7 Consumer There’s no escaping the fact that more consumers than ever are connected. With 2/3s of consumers having a smartphone, the phone is no longer used for just calls and texts, it is now making purchases. Consumers describe it as “convenient”, “fun” and the “best thing in life”. Consumers are also connected everywhere at all times. 50% of consumers are connecting from the bathroom and 66% from their car. There are…

Gift Card Culture

As a busy consumer, I love the convenience that gift cards offer me. During this past holiday season, I received four of them. As the giver of gift cards, it allows me to quickly buy a present for someone, but also tailor the gift card to the receiver’s interests showing them I care about what they like through the type of card I give them. As the receiver, it allows me to pick out exactly what I want. Even though the major holiday season is over, I just bought a gift card yesterday. With Valentine’s Day coming up, and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries happening throughout the year, gift cards never go out of season. I also buy gift cards for myself. For example, instead of leaving a credit card open on my iTunes account, I buy gift cards each month so I can better monitor how much I’m spending. It allows me to set a budget and not go over-board buying music or books. Once my gift card runs out, then I’m finished spending for that month. As a consumer,…