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Choosing the Best Online Gift Cards to Reward Every Generation

  • author

    Heather Munro

  • posted

    Aug 23, 2022

  • topic

    Academic Research, Digital Marketing, Employee Rewards, Market Research, Sales

Choosing the Best Online Gift Cards to Reward Every Generation

Reaching your audience, whether you’re doing research, surveys, or marketing campaigns, is always tricky. Choosing the best online gift card — one that incentivizes your target market to act — can have a big effect on your results.

But how do you know which rewards will resonate?

It’s no secret that different age groups think differently. Generation X, for example, prefers using Facebook, while Gen Z is all over TikTok. Each generation has its own preferences and will respond to offers that recognize this fact.

Which digital rewards you use can make a big difference in your organization’s response rates and engagement. You want to choose rewards that align with the age group you’re targeting.

Here are some suggestions for selecting the best online gift card for each generation.

Targeting Tech-Savvy Gen Z (Ages 12-24)

Described as digital natives and the youngest generation, Gen Z grew up with smartphones, tablets, and apps at their fingertips. In fact, 25% of them report having a smartphone before age 10. They’ve never known a time before Google.

At the same time, this age group is demanding more from businesses. According to research from Cubist Martini, 65% of Gen Z say they will pay 48% more, on average, for products from a purpose-driven brand.

If you’re trying to reach students, recent college grads, or young professionals, the best online gift cards support their digitally driven lifestyle or give back in some way, such as:

  • Digital entertainment: Google Play, Apple, Amazon
  • Online gaming: Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox
  • Streaming services: Hulu, Twitch, Sling
  • Purpose-driven brands: Columbia, REI
  • E-donations: Clean Water Fund, National Park Foundation

Attracting Diverse Millennials (Ages 27-41)

Considered America’s largest generation, millennials are the most diverse group in terms of their lifestyle habits and interests. Many came of age during the emergence of the internet, and they are known to do lots of online research before making a purchase.

Around 45% of millennials say same-day delivery is important, according to Forbes. That’s not surprising when you consider the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey reported that 33% of millennials have taken on either a part- or full-time paying job in addition to their primary job. This generation is strapped for cash and time.

If you’re trying to reach people in the their mid-20s to early 40s, the best online gift cards will offer convenience and savings on well-established brands, including:

  • Food delivery: GrubHub, Uber Eats
  • Grocery stores: Kroger, Giant Eagle, Safeway
  • Big-box retailers: Target, Walmart
  • Meal kits: Hello Fresh, Home Chef
  • Prepaid cards: Mastercard, Visa

Engaging Loyal Gen Xers (Ages 42-57)

Often overlooked by marketers in favor of millennials and Gen Z, Gen X has the highest brand loyalty of any generation and may be less likely to try new or emerging options. But because they grew up with emerging technology, they’re just as likely as millennials to adopt new apps and appreciate digital rewards.

In addition, this age group can easily become part of what’s called the sandwich generation, straddling the line between raising kids and caring for aging parents. Any rewards that can be put toward vacation or eating out can help them get a much-needed break.

If you’re trying to reach people in the their mid-40s to late 50s, the best online gift cards will be from well-established, trustworthy brands that will appeal to busy people, including:

  • Airline travel: Delta, Southwest
  • Department stores: Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom
  • Entertainment: Redbox, Regal Cinema, Showtime
  • Restaurants: Panera Bread, Legal Seafood, Red Robin
  • Vacation stays: Airbnb, Hotels.com

Reaching Baby Boomers (Ages 58-76)

Believe it or not, baby boomers are going digital. They have to. Almost every transaction these days is done online. According to Pew Research, 68% of baby boomers own a smartphone.


This age group is also approaching or already in retirement, so chances are they would appreciate digital rewards that help them make the most out of a retiree’s budget. They’re also more likely to be focused on managing their health.

If you’re trying to reach people in their late 50s to late 70s, the best online gift cards will be those that help them save on everyday essentials:

  • Big-box retailers: Target, Walmart
  • Department stores: Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom
  • Grocery stores: Kroger, Giant Eagle, Safeway
  • Health and wellness: CVS Pharmacy, LuluLemon, SpaFinder
  • Savings: Groupon

Creating a Successful Rewards Program

Knowing the best online gift cards for your target audience is only the first step. The right incentives management platform makes curating the right rewards for each generation easy.  Make sure to choose a tool with a wide catalog of options, so you can properly tailor your selection — and ensure improved engagement from the right people.

Once you’ve chosen the best online gift cards for your audience, find out how testing other aspects can help you fine-tune your program and achieve even better results.

about the author
Heather Munro

Based near Boulder, Colorado, Heather is a copywriter who has been writing in the retail and B2B space for more than 20 years.

Based near Boulder, Colorado, Heather is a copywriter who has been writing in the retail and B2B space for more than 20 years.