Voulez-vous voucher avec mois, ce sois? Oui oui, if you're in China! A governmental crackdown on the use and abuse of gift cards has left gift vouchers as the preferred choice of Chinese who want to give big but at the same time, give light.
"My holidays have been dominated by these vouchers," enthused one female shopper. Similar tales told to reporters from Beijing Business Today indicate that gift vouchers have not only supplanted gift cards as a favored way to present gifts, but in many cases they've become the gifts themselves.
Take mooncakes, for example. A traditional gift for friends, family and co-workers during China's Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes have several drawbacks from the gift-giver's perspective: they're perishable, the boxes they're packaged in can suffer damage in transit, and last but not least they're heavy.
Why load yourself up with a dozen boxes of purchased mooncakes when a half-dozen gift vouchers provide the same benefits? Those receiving a gift voucher can redeem it at their convenience while those giving the gift can still receive the credit.
Businesses and manufacturers like gift vouchers as well. Unlike gift cards that can be used for a range of products including discounted items, gift vouchers are designed for dedicated products that carry a higher level of prestige (and a higher price as well). Since the gift vouchers are prepaid, manufacturers have a better idea of how popular items might be and can plan production accordingly.
In addition, gift vouchers typically can only be used within a short period of time, meaning businesses are not obligated to honor or refund expired vouchers. It's estimated that up to 20 percent of gift vouchers for Chinese mitten crabs in Beijing go unredeemed every year, for example, allowing voucher issuers to add approximately 10 million yuan ($1.57 million) to their bottom lines annually.
The watchword for smart shoppers this holiday season is “caveat emptor”, or perhaps we should say, “Let them eat cake!” (via Want China Times and Beijing Kids)