DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Members Group, the card processing firm jointly owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and Iowa Corporate, has reported a very strong holiday season with its new gift card offerings.
"We are encouraged by the continued consumer acceptance of gift cards," said Jeff Russell, vice president, strategic development and CIO. "While there have been reports that might suggest otherwise, our clients saw very enthusiastic members who embraced the versatility of the ATIRA gift card. Walk-in traffic was strong, and an increasing number of businesses saw this as a viable alternative to the traditional paper gift certificate."
TMG reported that specific credit unions had very strong success. For example, the $3.6 billion America First Credit Union, based in Riverdale, Utah, went live with its gift card program the second full week of November. America First sold more than 10,000 cards in 70 branches, doubling expectations, TMG said.
While there were a few companies that requested cards for employee bonuses, the bulk of the sales came from walk-in traffic. AFCU's marketing strategy included using their branches and Web site as the chief elements in the promotion. They produced oversized window clings, which were displayed in the branches, as well as counter displays informing members that Visa branded gift cards were available.
They also developed some online promotional elements, and they produced a specific landing page and additional promotional tiles on their Web site, including statement inserts to all members promoting the gift cards.
The $1.1 billion Veridian Credit Union, headquartered in Waterloo, Iowa, worked with a local radio station that was giving away three shopping sprees. While it was the radio station's promotion, winners received Veridian gift cards so they could have a shopping spree in the store of their choice. The credit union got great exposure during the promotion because the advertisements included the credit union's name.
This wasn't the first time the radio station had seen the gift cards. Several times throughout 2006, Veridian worked with the radio station on a $500 gift card giveaway as part of their overall gift card marketing and advertising strategy.
TMG reported that its smaller client credit unions benefited from the gift cards as well and noted that CUs could learn lessons for next year from this year's results: more than 50% of sales of the cards took place in the two weeks prior to Christmas.