Is your gift-card game on point for Mother’s Day?

Christmas and Mother’s Day are two of the biggest revenue-earning opportunities of the year for salons and spas. While spending for those holidays in 2020 would have been flat (if not down), it’s back up again this year, according to salon and spa softare company Kitomba (a salon and spa software company). And Australians routinely spend billions of dollars on Mother’s Day, according to past figures the Australian Retail Association. “The day itself was severely impacted by Covid lockdowns and restrictions in 2020, so hair and beauty salons will be looking to make up for some of the losses they incurred and lock in as many appointments as they can,” says CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, Paul Zahra.  With pandemic restrictions almost fully eased across most of the country, it’s time to make sure your business has a rock-solid Mother’s Day marketing plan and beauty and spa gift cards in place to net as many sales as possible.

Why use gift cards?

It turns out that the majority of gift purchases for Mother’s Day take place on Mother’s Day Eve (aka the night before). We love our mums but we definitely also wait until the last minute to shop for them! Knowing this, you can cater your product offering to consumer behaviour. “Gift cards for hair and beauty salons are always popular gifts for Mother’s Day and it’s a fantastic way to spoil an important person in our lives,” says Zahra.

How do I create a successful gift card programme?

Market to customers extensively, starting online. Google has found that the majority of all purchases – both in store and online – start online. This is where we live now, scrolling social media, reading, messaging, checking emails and shopping:

  • Make sure your website markets the Mother’s Day gift cards in a prominent spot on the homepage. If you link to your site from social media posts or newsletters promoting Mother’s Day gift cards, link to the right landing page. Don’t make your customers click around the site to find what they want to buy. Link directly to the page where the product sits.
  • Send your current customers email newsletters letting them know about your gift card offering and tell them why gift cards are such a great gift for mum.
  • Create social media posts marketing the gift cards and make the posts searchable through Mother’s Day-specific hashtags. And use targeted audiences when advertising online to reach the right eyeballs.
  • Use text messages right up to the morning of Mother’s Day to let late shoppers know they can still get a beautiful digital gift card for mum from your salon or spa.

Talk to men as well as women. Men buys gifts for their mums too. Lots of them, in fact. Make sure they know you’re selling gift cards that they can buy. Target them in your social ads and make sure that your window displays or signage speaks to them. And enroll your salon in good Open Loop cards (i.e. gift cards that can be used at a variety of establishments instead of just the venue at which it is bought (Closed Loop)) so that they can buy them in other locations (like the grocery store or malls).

Help customers avoid choice paralysis. Offering a series of pre-set amounts takes the guess work out of how much money someone needs to spend on a card to cover the cost of a treatment. Offer a concise menu of purchase options to take the thinking out of it for them, and describe what the value of each card would cover.

Make cards holiday specific. If you can, brand your cards specifically to you (for Closed Loop) and brand them specifically for mum. It doesn’t feel all that great to get some arbitrary card, but something specifically designed for Mother’s Day and giving to mum will feel more considerate.

Offer them in all formats. Be sure to offer physical gift cards (or gift certificates if you don’t have an eftpos or electronic booking) in your salon or spa, and a digital version that can be emailed to mum or loaded onto her phone in one of her payment apps (The Pamper Card offers this option, for example). That way all bases are covered. If your client happened to be checking out after a treatment they can pick up a card at the point of sale with no added friction. Same if they are shopping while watching TV at night.

Package your cards with other products. With physical cards, offer them as stand-alone option or as part of a bigger gift – a gift card and a gift set of skincare or scented candle to feel more substantial when giving it to mum and saves the giver the trouble of going out for an additional thing, like a bouquet of flowers, to go along with the gift card.

Wrap physical cards like presents. Make it beautiful! Whether it’s a standalone card or packaged with other products, wrap it, put it in a gift bag with tissue paper or in a box with a bow. Make it special. Treat it like a proper gift and take all the work out of it for the buyer. If it’s already wrapped and beautiful, it’s one less thing for them to do.

Go Open Loop and Closed Loop. We mentioned Open and Closed Loop cards above but just in case you missed it, Open Loop gift cards are the general ones you can get at the grocery store checkout, for example, that can be used at thousands of venues nationwide. The Pamper Card can be used at up to 10,000 Australian venues. All that’s required is they have eftpos. A Closed Loop card is one that can be used exclusively at the salon or spa at which it has been purchased. Many booking software systems and POS systems (like Square) offer a gift card option. Shopify is evening offering the gift card add-on to all paid subscription plans in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

You can also print gift certificates for purchase at places like Vista Print, but they are harder to track and measure to evaluate how successful they have been.

What are the benefits to me and my business?

The most obvious benefit is you make money on all gift card purchases instantly even if treatments and services (and the outgoings associated with that) are deferred. You make the money now even if the cards are never redeemed.

And gift cards are a great referral tool. Current clients gift your cards to their network, who in turn become potential loyal clients and so on. It’s a great way to harness the power of your customer base and its network.

And you get the chance to cross- and up-sell clients who do redeem the cards. Although many gift cards go un-used (to the tune of billions of dollars), many are redeemed, and that means clients coming to you for services, with the chance to book them in for future services, collecting contact details and selling product. For new clients who have received cards from current clients, it’s also a chance to prove yourself and earn their loyalty over other spas and salons, with great treatments and outstanding, welcoming customer service.

What are the new regulations and rules around gift card programmes?

“Gift cards are a fantastic way to promote your business and to secure repeat customers, however salons and clinics should be mindful of the Australian Consumer Law around gift cards and the terms and conditions that need to be in place,” says Zahra.

“The Australian Consumer Law sets standards and consumer protections for gift cards,” says Intuit. “Most importantly, the law prohibits gift cards from expiring within three years from the date of activation. Additionally, NSW and SA have additional local laws in place. Check your state or territory consumer protection agency for the relevant legislation in your area.”

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