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The Gift of Grub
Quick-serves surge in popularity during the holiday season.
Dairy Queen launched Share DQ Joy during the holidays.

Joy is an 80-something matriarch, who loves the holidays, has a “Blizzard-a-day-habit,” and happens to be the unofficial spokesperson for Share DQ Joy, Dairy Queen’s first holiday gift card promotion.

The campaign is currently being promoted on a dedicated Web site and through television advertising. Visitors to the site learn more about the DQ gift card program and forward videos starring Joy, including clips of her dancing with Santa and conducting her cats in holiday carols.

Buyers of a $20 Dairy Queen gift card receive a free Blizzard soft-serve ice cream sundae.

“Most quick-serves have gift cards,” says Tim Hawley, vice president of marketing communications for American Dairy Queen (DQ) Corp. “We wanted to break through the clutter by including a treat for the buyer, plus there was an incentive behind Joy, a quirky woman who loves Blizzards and the holidays.

“When you look at the trend, Dairy Queen is definitely a treat,” Hawley continues, “and we timed the gift card with the fourth quarter. It’s not our peak season, but it’s an important season.”

And the timing for DQ’s debit debut couldn’t be better. Gift card sales are expected to total $26.3 billion this holiday season, compared to $24.8 billion in 2006, according to the fifth annual National Retail Federation Gift Card Survey, conducted by BIGResearch, LLC, a Worthington, Ohio-based consumer intelligence firm that provides behavior analyses of product, services, retail, financial, and media.

The National Retail Federation survey says the average consumer will spend more on gift cards than they did last year—$122.59 versus $116.51 in 2006. Another study by Comdata Stored Value Solutions Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky–based provider of electronic payment solutions, including gift, payroll, credit, and debit cards, indicated that 32 percent of 800 surveyed purchasers gave gift cards to restaurants and quick-serves last year.

In fact, restaurant gift cards were among the most popular presents, according to the Comdata survey, finishing behind department stores (45 percent), clothing stores (39 percent), and bookstores (33 percent). Restaurant and coffee shops cards finished ahead of cash cards and card redeemable at grocery stores, movie theaters, and gas stations.

Gift card sales are expected to total $26.3 billion this holiday season, compared to $24.8 billion in 2006.”

In an online survey of 1,000 people commissioned by Pizza Hut Inc., it was noted that 70 percent of survey respondents chose restaurants as the place they most like to receive gift cards from. This choice rated higher than department stores (59 percent), clothing stores (49 percent), and electronic stores (38 percent).

The Comdata survey also included preferences among ethnicity, with Hispanics receiving gift cards with the highest average value, $71, compared to $60 for African-Americans, and $41 for Caucasians.

“We found that Hispanics were more than comfortable with the technology,” says Bob Skiba, executive vice president and general manager of Comdata. “They were more familiar with it and preferred it instead of using cash or writing a check

Retailers, Skiba says, should go out of their way to market to Hispanics by not only adding Spanish-language cards to their lineup, but also by understanding how their culture celebrates holidays and birthdays. In fact, according to Skiba, gift card sales among Hispanics are actually higher prior to Holy Week than during the holidays.