The Popularity & Adaptability of Gift Cards are Transforming Employee & Customer Rewarding Programs in the MENA
Take a moment and recall the challenge of determining how to reward or incentivize your employees, clients, or even family members. It can be daunting trying to figure out what might effectively motivate different individuals. However, just as gift cards revolutionized the gifting industry, they have also brought about a transformation in the rewards and incentives sector.
The flexibility, cost-effectiveness, easy logistical planning, and convenience of gift cards provide the senders with an easy way to cut costs and time. Additionally, the recipients are given the freedom of choice, and the luxury to select items that are most beneficial or desirable to them, amplifying their motivational potential. Unlike traditional rewards or incentives, these 'rewards’ do not assume uniform preferences among recipients but rather acknowledge their unique tastes and needs. By offering the gift of choice, rewards ensure that the incentives are truly effective, boosting satisfaction and increasing engagement levels.
Simply put, gift cards are monetary equivalents that hold a defined value and can be used as a means of payment for products or services at specific retailers or across a network of businesses. With merchants creating unique designs and integrating their brand into the cards, they have become synonymous with branded currency. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) gift cards are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the region’s gift card and incentive card market is expected to reach US $6 Billion1 by 2026, recording a CAGR of 11.5% during 2022-2026.
Rewards matter, but traditional approaches now fall short
The significance of employee and customer rewards cannot be overstated. Employee rewards foster a positive work culture, strengthening teamwork, loyalty, and talent retention. Employees who feel valued are more involved, driven, and willing to go the extra mile. When it comes to customer rewards, which are typically offered as part of a loyalty program, they assist in cultivating a sense of appreciation. Customers who feel valued develop a deeper bond with the brand, resulting in increased spending, customer retention, and, ultimately, loyalty.
Traditionally, companies have given away merchandise, such as branded stationary, clothing, and bags, as a way of rewarding their employees and customers. Food and treats have long been popular alternatives, along with trophies and plaques, especially in the MENA region, as customer rewards. Furthermore, prior to the establishment of modern methods of rewarding, some employees would receive appealing and often performance-related perks such as a joining-cash bonus, payouts, and more.
Today, however, budgets and expenses are fluctuating in response to market conditions, and the concept of instant gratification influences the impact of employee and customer rewards. Major drawbacks, including high costs, lack of flexibility, logistical challenges, and the amounts of time required for preparation and planning, are only some of the reasons why these antiquated practices should not be relevant anymore. In addition, several countries in the MENA region have laws and regulations prohibiting cash rewards.
Unlocking the untapped potential of rewards with digital gift cards
Gift cards, especially in their digital form, surpass the limitations of traditional reward mechanisms. Digital gift cards (or ‘eGift Cards’) are climbing in popularity due to their instantaneous digital delivery, offering receivers immediate gratification alongside the freedom to choose from a wide array of options, allowing them to pick a reward which matches their personal taste anytime they want. Whether it's a gift card as part of a special promotion, a loyalty program, a performance incentive, or for milestone recognition, both customers and employees value the freedom of choosing their desired rewards. It is worth noting that according to a recent study, 41% of employees prefer a gift card as a reward, yet only 15% of them receive one.
From the viewpoint of senders, or businesses in this context, digital gift cards offer a number of important advantages. The integration of a rewards-solution based on digital gift cards is hassle-free and cost-effective, which renders it a perfect fit for businesses of all sizes. Since they can be simply distributed via digital channels, businesses can avoid logistical complexities. Moreover, gift cards can be personalized with a variety of designs and customization options, making them feel thoughtful, personal, and unique to employees and customers.
The new generation of Multi-Brand digital gift cards also provide superior versatility for customers and employees who purchase products and services from multiple retailers. Then, of course, there is data. Digital gift cards are one of the few tools enabling companies to acquire valuable customer data through distributors, which can be used to design precisely tailored rewards experiences that exceed customers’ expectations. By personalizing rewards, companies can improve their performance and reputation as both an employer and a consumer brand.
"YOUGotaGift's wide MENA coverage and personalized solutions have transformed the way we recognize, reward and motivate our diverse team. It allows us to ensure that every employee, no matter their location, feels valued and appreciated. Moreover, their customization and personalization makes rewarding more thoughtful, adding even more value for the recipient." - Nahla Abualula, Associate Director/People Experience at SADAFCO
As the world continues to evolve at a rapid pace, organizations must constantly adapt to emerging trends and innovate in the field of rewards and incentives. By rewarding their employees and consumers in meaningful ways, they can transcend mere symbolism and transform it into measurable value. Digital gift cards, which have already made an impact and demonstrate amazing growth potential, can serve as a valuable ally in this effort. With the support of a leading gift card solutions provider, businesses throughout the MENA region can easily start an employee and customer rewards program using gift cards in order to capitalize on this opportunity, and set a benchmark for others to follow.