FLEXcon logo

Gift Cards Appeal to the Senses

Achieving Sensory Delights with FLEXcon® PLUSHprint™

 Custom Films

Gift cards - the modern day gift certificates – are continually increasing in popularity, and retailers are vying for consumer attention with distinct branded concepts while looking for new ways to entice the shopper.

A large national consumer electronics retailer wanted its holiday-themed gift cards to stand out from its field of competitors, so its printing company turned to FLEXcon, a leading manufacturer of self-adhesive film, to determine what options it had for the unique application.

“The client wanted something out of the ordinary that would attract attention,” said Bob O’Keefe, vice president of sales and marketing, for Process Label, a Minneapolis, MN-based converting company and a FLEXcon client.

The challenge, however, was matching the color and texture of the existing card carrier – shaped as a holiday stocking and sporting a velvet-like texture with die-cut images and tag line in a custom holiday red.

“We turned to FLEXcon immediately to see what kinds of unique products they had that could meet the client’s needs,” O’Keefe added.

Process Label and its electronics retailer client decided on a gift card design that included a die-cut cell phone image, mimicking the texture of the card carrier and matching the custom red in the tag line. The cell phone decal featured a screen which read “Ring-a-ling.” Consumers would be able to feel the texture of the card even when removed from the textured carrier. Through sensory marketing, a tactile relationship between the consumer, the holiday, and the gift was created.

Process Label looked at several products in attempt to capture the look and feel of the textured gift card carrier design. In addition to meeting the design’s aesthetics, the gift card itself presented unique application conditions.

FLEXcon’s custom capabilities and film choices helped make this innovative design a reality. Plastic gift cards tend to have a low surface energy making it difficult for the ink and adhesive to stick to. In this application, however, a die-cut cell phone created out of self-adhesive label stock was to be applied to the gift card. The gift card would then be affixed to the card carrier to complete the unique point-of-sale effort. There were several characteristics the self-adhesive product needed for success. The film had to be highly print-receptive, with an ability to be tinted to match the custom red color. The film needed to feature the desired texture and to stand up well to precise die-cutting. Finally, it required an adhesive aggressive enough to remain on the surface of the gift card.

The client wanted something out of the ordinary that would attract attention. We turned to FLEXcon immediately to see what kinds of unique products they had that could meet the client’s needs.

– Bob O’Keefe, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Process Label

Custom Films


Process Label worked with FLEXcon on a custom solution, which included FLEXcon’s PLUSHprint and optiFLEX® products. The PLUSHprint™ film has a suede-like texture, which is similar to the inside of a ring box, to match the gift card carrier. PLUSHprint,™ a highly printable self-adhesive vinyl film, was tinted the custom red.

The tinted PLUSHprint was UV printed to depict a cell phone keypad. The cell phone screen area was die-cut out of the film, and then the material was laminated to FLEXcon’s clear optiFLEX® film which had the “Ring-a-ling” message printed on it. The message appeared in the die-cut window or screen. The cell phone shape was then die-cut, and stripped of its matrix so all that was left were the individual cell phone decals on a release liner. The entire piece was rewound onto rolls to be shipped to the gift card manufacturer, who then automatically applied the cell phone decals onto the gift cards.

The unique textured surface and 3D effect of the gift card and carrier appealed to the senses of the consumer, and was a success, raising the popularity and success of the holiday gift cards.

In fact, the 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by the National Retail Federation indicates that gift cards are the most requested gift during the holiday season, with 54.9% of consumers indicating they would like to receive a gift card as a holiday gift. Gift cards, according to the survey, were the most requested gift this year, followed by books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (50%) and clothing or accessories (49.8%).

The survey also revealed that shoppers’ main reasons for gift card purchases were that gift cards allow the recipient to select their own gift (25.4%) and that gift cards are easier and faster to buy than traditional gifts (12.6%). Some consumers also say they are enticed to buy gift cards by retailer incentives (6.3%) or because they are easier to ship than traditional gifts (6.7%). Others say gift cards help them stick to their budget (5.7%) or like the fact that a gift recipient won’t have to deal with returning unwanted merchandise (5.1%).

By collaborating with FLEXcon, Process Label was able to help the electronics retailer capitalize on the popularity of gift cards and develop an innovative promotional project. Moreover, FLEXcon showed how custom capabilities and materials expertise can play a critical role in realizing the vision of printer, brand owner, and ad agency.