by Alex Palmer | April 22, 2019

Big-box retailers are a big draw for incentive and loyalty programs. That was among the findings of the latest "B2B Gift Card Report" from gift card technology company National Gift Card, which examined the redemption statistics for loyalty, rewards and incentive programs in 2018, ranking the top award categories, favorite gift cards and other aspects of the b2b gift card sector.

As for categories of gift cards, big-box retailers took the top spot, cited by 30 percent of respondents. This marked a 4 percent increase for the category compared to last year and made it by far the most cited category (and the fourth consecutive year in which it topped the list). The category rankings were:

  1. Big Box Retailers - 30%
  2. Open Loop - 24.8%
  3. Entertainment - 10.3%
  4. Department Stores - 7.4%
  5. Quick Service - 5%
  6. Gas/Automotive - 4.2%
  7. Home Improvement - 3.2%
  8. Specialty - 3.2%
  9. Casual Dining - 3%
  10. Canadian Sales - 2.7%
  11. Apparel - 2.5%
  12. Grocery/Pharmacy - 1.7%
  13. Sports & Wellness - 1%
  14. Travel - 1%

The report also delved into the specific brands that individuals are redeeming.

Top 5 Specific Gift Card Rankings:

  1. Visa Prepaid Reward Cards
  2. Amazon
  3. Walmart
  4. iTunes
  5. Target

Physical cards remain a greater driver than digital. National Gift Card found that 69.3 percent of redemptions were for physical cards compared to 30.7 percent for digital. But while less than have the share that physical cards represent, this marked a 7.33 percent increase for the digital category compared to last year.

"We expect digital gift card redemption and sales to continue to climb," said Eric Thiegs, NGC's chief revenue officer, in a statement. "We're seeing more gift card clients in both the retailer and corporate arena look to partners like NGC to utilize gift card API technology and white label solutions to customize gift card programs with mobile and real-time features. This will positively impact the end-user experience for digital gift card redemptions."