Clever marketing campaigns that tap into the support local sentiment through multi-business gift card programmes has meant two of the UK’s largest cities are streets ahead with local economic recovery.

The Aberdeen Gift Card launched in late November, encouraging people to ‘give the gift of Aberdeen’ receiving over £150,000 in gift card sales in its first weeks of operation and quickly became one of the biggest selling gift cards of its kind in the UK and Ireland.

Meanwhile, September saw the collaboration of three Belfast BIDS, Belfast One, Linen Quarter BID and Destination Cathedral Quarter (CQ) BID, on a #GiftTheCity campaign to drive local economic recovery, with over £90,000 in gift card sales for the Belfast City Centre Gift Card.

Both Aberdeen and Belfast are part of the award winning Town and City Gift Card programme from fintech Miconex which recorded over £1.9 million in sales in 2020, across its 59 programmes in the UK and Ireland.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said the Aberdeen Gift Card has been a vital aid to their businesses:

“We have been pleased with the fantastic sales the Aberdeen Gift Card has had since it launched in late November. With 3500 cards bought with a total value of £150,000, it really has given a boost to the local economy. Aberdeen Inspired worked incredibly hard in a short timescale to launch it in time for Christmas and it has helped to make a big difference at a time when it was, and is, most needed.

“We put a substantial strategic PR and marketing push behind the scheme and the message to ‘give the gift of Aberdeen’ really struck a chord during a difficult time for the city. Our business engagement team are very active in promoting the benefits of being part of scheme to our levy payers, and this combined with our promotional activity, has helped it reach far and wide. It is our hope that sales will continue to grow and with that, bring further relief to businesses across a wide range of sectors in the city.

“We are currently working on our spring marketing campaign with a focus on city centre experiences, themes and key moments of celebration throughout the year. We will continue to support and promote the city centre businesses involved in the scheme as well as encourage new sign ups.

“On average people spend 40% more than the value of the gift card when they go to use it at a local business so there are significant economic benefits brought to city centre businesses who are part of the scheme.”

30 of the 59 Town and City Gift Card programmes are located in large UK cities, including Sheffield, York, Bath, City of London, Cardiff and Leicester. Managing director of Miconex Colin Munro says large cities can use local gift card programmes to encourage footfall into city centres:

“With their population mass, cities have a large potential audience for their gift card programmes. Local gift cards have to be spent with businesses in that particular area, encouraging shoppers into the city centre. What Aberdeen and Belfast have done so successfully, is to create campaigns that capture the public’s imagination, enabling them to harness the shop local sentiment and support a wide range of businesses in the city.”

The Aberdeen City Gift Card is delivered by Aberdeen Inspired and supported by Aberdeen City Council.