August 23, 2011
Big-budget incentive programs and their gift card and gift certificate components both showed signs of revival in Incentive’s 2011 Gift Card IQ survey.

The number of respondents with incentive gift card and certificate budgets of more than $100,000 nearly doubled to 15 percent this year, compared with 7.8 percent in 2010. The most dramatic gain was in programs with budgets between $250,000 and $499,999, which jumped from 0.4 percent to 3.9 percent—nearly 10 times the number seen in 2010.

The number of low-budget gift card programs shrank, however. Programs with budgets of less than $1,000 dropped more than 10 percent, from nearly a third of the programs reported in 2010 to just 21.7 percent this year. 

The same trend was seen in the overall incentive program budgets reported in this survey: the number of incentive programs with budgets of less than $25,000 shrank nearly 10 percent compared to last year, while the five largest program categories—from the $75,000-to-$149,999 range to the $1 million-or-more range—all increased. Nineteen percent had annual budgets of more than $250,000, and 10.6 percent spend $1 million or more.

And yet, while nearly 57 percent of respondents said their budgets were untouched in 2011 compared with the year before, the number who saw budget cuts (20.5 percent) was only slightly smaller than those who saw budget increases (22.8 percent). 

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