Industry News | December 17, 2010

The Season of Giving Spreads to Facebook

It’s the season of giving, and some brands are letting their customers take giving to the digital environment they spend so much time in—Facebook.

First Data announced that four quick-serve brands—Boston Market, Burger King, Culver’s, and Cold Stone Creamery—and six other retail brands have employed its eGift Social solution that lets customers send gift cards to their friends through the social media juggernaut.

“When given the opportunity to be able to provide [customers] with a really easy way to send an emotional response with a gift leveraging [quick serves’] gift card program, I think they thought it was a win-win for them and their consumers,” says Sarah Owen, vice president of mobile commerce solutions at First Data. “Obviously they’re looking to increase gift card purchases, and therefore traffic in their locations. And they’re looking to provide meaningful and convenient experiences to their consumers.”

Through First Data’s eGift Social solution, Boston Market is offering holiday-time meal gift cards starting at $5; Burger King is offering an item-level Whopper with the choice of 18 different holiday e-cards; Cold Stone is offering item-level gifts such as ice cream Creations and shakes; and Culver’s is offering item-level gifts such as ButterBurgers, Wisconsin cheese curds, and Frozen Custard.

Owen says that even though gift cards are especially popular during the holidays, either as stocking stuffers or as gifts for colleagues, a tool like First Data’s is something quick serves can take advantage of year-round and turn into an “everyday occurrence.”

“It’s going to significantly change the way that consumers give and gift, and I think merchants have an opportunity after the holidays to play with the messaging and play with the positioning to move it from a holiday gifting device to an everyday gifting device,” she says.

Brands that use First Data’s tool are provided a template through which they can design their own deals, Owen says. Customers can then access the deal on the company’s website or Facebook fan page.

Owen says notification of a gift that’s been given shows up on both the giver’s and receiver’s Facebook pages, offering valuable marketing across both user’s friend networks.

This new era of gift cards will only continue to evolve, Owen says, especially as more people join social media and use smartphones.

“I don’t think that anytime soon that this will take the place of in-store gift card purchasing, but I think it will augment that,” she says. “I think consumers, once they do start leveraging this type of solution and once they do find it to be convenient, it might become their main way of gifting.”

By Sam Oches

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.