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by Alex Palmer | January 12, 2016
Research released ahead of the holidays found that gift cards remain a strong draw for consumers. The study, from prepaid commerce firm CashStar, found that 61 percent of online shoppers had planned to purchase gift cards for the holidays, and a majority (56 percent) said they would be interested in storing value on their mobile phones.

Perhaps related to this growing interest in mobile gift cards, the survey, which drew on the responses of online consumers, found that 40 percent of respondents admit to having lost their plastic gift cards.

"This data reinforces the importance of delivering rich, engaging and useful experiences for both the senders and the recipients of gift cards," said CashStar President and CEO Ben Kaplan, in a statement. "People who receive gift cards - both plastic and digital - now have more options than ever for storing their card value on their smartphones in mobile wallets, and in 2016 we expect more retailers to adopt this functionality."

The survey broke down interest in mobile gift cards by region. Residents of Western states expressed the greatest interest, at 59 percent, with the largest proportion (22 percent) expressing preference for digital rather than plastic. The respondents most likely to lose cards were those living in the Northeast, where almost half (49 percent) said they have lost cards, compared to one third (33 percent) of residents of the Southeast. 

Looking at other demographics, the research found that younger respondents (those aged 18 to 24) expressed the greatest interest in digital gift card purchases, with 74 percent responding that they would be interested in storing cards on their mobile phones (just 34 percent of those aged 66 and older). 

The research also found that the younger respondents were most likely to wait until one or two days before the holidays to purchase a gift card, while those aged 45 to 54 were most likely to make their gift card purchases well in advance.

"Even at the last minute, digital gifting allows givers to create highly personalized gifts with photos, messages and video," added Kaplan.