Gift Cards Can Give Experiential Brands a Boost

Use experiential gift cards to reach consumers eager for fun events and activities. 

Date:Dec. 16, 2019

In Madonna’s 1985 smash hit, Material Girl, the pop superstar sang that “we are living in a material world.” The song proved to be a significant cultural signpost, summing up the decade’s fervid consumerism. But things have changed sharply in these modern times. Now we are living in an experiential world. 


The experience economy has been surging for several years and shows no sign of letting up. It has been fueled by Millennials and their keen desire to do stuff instead of buy stuff. According to a Harris Group survey, 78 percent of Millennial consumers prefer to open their wallets for experiences instead of material things. 


More than just a Millennial thing, this pattern of buying behavior has been crossing generations – from Generation Z to Baby Boomers. A McKinsey study found that personal-consumption expenditures on experience-related services — such as dining out, traveling, going to amusement parks and attending concerts — have increased more than 1.5 times faster than overall personal-consumption spending and nearly four times faster than spending on goods. 


This is encouraging news for an experience-driven brand. But competition for consumer dollars is still fierce. A great way to grow your market share is to offer a gift card. Your branded gift card works as an effective marketing tool; raising awareness, boosting sales and building customer engagement.  


Consumers are passionate about gift cards that offer experiences.
Consumers are passionate about gift cards that offer experiences.



“Given the rise of the experience economy, a gift card is a perfect sales vehicle for an experiential brand,” says Scott Silver, Vice President, Partner Acquisition at InComm. “Giving a gift card that delivers an experience can be more personal and more memorable for the gift-recipient – and easier for the gift-giver – making these cards an ideal gift solution for many consumers.”  


With a gift card, experiential businesses can take advantage of this new consumer mindset and tap into their desire to see and be entertained. Consumers are looking for something that makes them happy, and “doing things” is gaining ground on “owning things.”  




Consumers derive more happiness from spending money on experiences because of the memories they provide. 

Cornell University study 




While experiences are high on consumer wish lists, so is convenience. To get a gift card in their hands, businesses should make it easy for them to find it. Membership warehouse club retailers have become a prime destination for selling experiential gift cards. The top warehouse or club retailers – Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club – boast significant foot traffic with over 150 million members, combined. They also occupy a substantial footprint with 1,310 locations between them across the U.S.A.  


Membership warehouse retailers offer experiential regional brands more bang for their buck while putting their name in front a huge audience. “These stores enable a regional brand to be in a national brand channel and compete with the big names,” Silver said. “It also enables them to drill down into their specific markets, as they can choose to sell their cards in select locations. The cost of entry is affordable, too, and flexible; businesses can test an offer – like point-of-sale-activated programs – without committing to a long-term placement."   


Regional experiential brands also get the benefit of major marketing muscle. Silver noted that various retailers are putting more money behind gift card promotion, including in-store, online and mobile ad campaigns. “These retailers are especially committed to getting consumers to buy local brands,” he said.  


InComm works directly with brands to get their cards on the warehouse retailer’s fixture. “We have a wealth of experience in launching experiential brands,” Silver said. We bring detailed research to the table, map out the top markets for their card, explain the benefits and costs of entry – then we present the brand’s proposal to the warehouse retailers’ buyers.” 

We’ve helped a broad range of regional businesses place their gift cards in warehouse club retailers; from fitness clubs and minor league baseball teams to festivals. – Scott Silver, Vice President, Partner Acquisition at InComm. 



It’s exciting to see consumers are getting out there and experiencing life. A gift card is a great way for businesses to tap into this consumer desire and drive traffic. Whether purchased as a gift or for personal use, the card will certainly deliver a special moment outside the material world. 


To learn more, contact Scott Silver at