As festivities get in swing with the approaching spring, a ‘gift exchange mania’ is about to set in! Efforts to notch up ‘gift culture’ are in the air, along with pollen. The stores, eateries and clothing brands in market are already buzzing with adverts offering special deals and customized gift boxes. The usual idea of gifting is: ‘valuable items, meticulously packed in beautiful wrappings, decorated with ribbons,’ and presented occasionally to one’s object of affection. A visual treat, vanity boxes displayed at malls can trap oneself in a buying spree.
In some ways, gifts are like babies, maddeningly cute, but I am also concerned that regular, mundane and routine items have just stopped giving us the ‘gift high’. We find it difficult to accept that a gift can be anything other than exquisite jewels, costly accessories, flamboyant apparels or fragrances. Do we see socks, mittens, baking trays, utensils, meals, coffee, books or prepaid phone cards as gifts anymore? The latter does not sound as exciting as our present options.
Is it the perception of extravaganza associated with gifts the reason it is taking us so long to normalize gift cards in Pakistan?
But what if we adopted a different marketing strategy that promotes the gift appeal of utilities such as groceries, laundry services, spa treatments and car fuel? A gift does not always have to be a precious and costly commodity; it can be homely, sustainable, recyclable, yet modern. In my quest to revolutionize ‘gift culture’ towards more regular, helpful, day to day items, I looked up the variety of gift cards available in Pakistan. To my amazement we have a limited gift card range, that too only for targeted consumers. Gift cards are money loaded vouchers, digital or material, specific or general, for shopping at depots, cafes and outlets. Actual gift cards can be used in stores or for making online purchases; digital gift cards are limited to usage online or on the phone.
Since modern problems require modern solutions, developed countries have promoted gift cards as an intermediary to e-cash and tangible gifts. Gift cards make popular gifts in the UK, the US, and China. Even alibaba.com provides a range of gift cards to choose from. The gift cards available in Pakistan currently include Amazon, Daraz, GooglePlay, Xbox Live, Nintendo, and Spotify; all great for gen-Z tech enthusiasts, but what about some of the old soul millennials and their not so tech-savvy elders? Why can’t we have gift cards for phone bills, stationery items, takeaways and for house furnishings?
Is it the perception of extravaganza associated with gifts the reason it is taking us so long to normalize gift cards in Pakistan? It seems our entrepreneurs have already identified and are trying to bridge this gap . Some good sites include: giftkarte.com’ which offers quite a range of utilities and ‘e-sales’ across outlets; Khaadi, a clothing brand has its own gift cards. Since Careem is enabling customers to book rides, shop for daily items and get deliveries, their e-gift cards have been introduced in Turkey and Pakistan. Websites like tohfay.com and qmart.pk/giftcards also have e-gift card options.
Along with businesses coming up with e-gift cards, it would be nice to have physical gift cards in Pakistan as well. The avenue could further be broadened with the introduction of digital wallets, as it would make transactions safe and easier. When buying gift-cards one must be wary of expiration dates and additional charges, because terms and conditions apply everywhere. Also, one must know the type of gift card at hand and follow instructions before buying. Regardless, gift cards in Pakistan would be a welcomed change.