Blackhawk Network's CEO on Navigating the Changing Payments Industry

by Talbott Roche 0

Talbott Roche, Chief Executive Officer and President of Blackhawk Network, recently took the stage as a keynote speaker at Money20/20 to discuss the branded value category and developments in the gift card and prepaid space. We spoke with her about the changing payments industry and what businesses can do to motivate and engage people through payments.

How do you think Blackhawk Network will flourish in the growing and changing payments industry?

We love payment innovation at Blackhawk Network. We are a business trying to solve problems for consumers and businesses. Payment, historically, has been the end of the purchasing flow for consumers. But today, payment solutions can be—and are—so much more. Payment solutions can solve a bigger issue that all companies face: how do we create deeper and more engaged connections between consumers and brands?

In the past, the industry enriched the payment transaction with the promise of acceptance or status. In an instant-gratification and connected world, this kind of generalized and somewhat abstract value is less inspiring. We want experiences and solutions that connect to personalized value now, like being able to convert points into buying power in a store or using mobile payments. Immediate and relevant value is what matters most to consumers, and Blackhawk is set to deliver that through what we call “branded value” solutions. Connecting brands to people through innovative branded value—which can be products, like gift cards, or solutions, like loyalty points and reward programs—encourages action on the part of the recipient.

What is branded value? How can businesses use it to motivate action or engage people?

We define branded value as products and solutions that connect brands to people and encourage action on the part of the recipient. Branded value covers everything from gift cards to loyalty points and even incentives from employers to employees. These solutions include creative mechanisms to pay in full or in part and connect the brand with the end user in ways that move payments up in terms of overall importance in purchase flow.

Why are branded value products an important part of business growth strategies?

Businesses can use branded value to drive a host of behaviors, including purchasing, online coversion and loyalty. They are also a more effective engagement solution. Brands spend billions trying to connect with people annually including providing coupons and advertising. For example, according to data from eMarketer, worldwide ad spending will reach $179.20 billion by the end of 2019 .

Branded value solutions can drive a deeper and more immediate return for businesses, and a better consumer experience. When customers have actual value of some kind (whether it is loyalty points redeemable for a gift, or a prepaid card that can be spent), it is a terrific motivator of action. Then by pairing that value with the impact and power of a consumer’s favorite brand, the incentive is even stronger.

According to a customer engagement study by Rosetta , engaged consumers buy 90 percent more frequently, spend 60 percent more per transaction and are five times more likely to indicate it is the only brand they would purchase in the future. Engaged customers are also six times more likely to say they would try a new product or service from the brand as soon as it becomes available.

So, branded value is a new type of engagement media for businesses. What are some companies that are successfully leveraging branded value today?

Several brands are currently striding ahead with this approach. Samsung, for instance, uses branded value incentives to drive consumer use and engagement with their mobile payment wallet. In terms of rewards, Chase is driving a more satisfying and immediately rewarding loyalty experience for consumers on its market-leading credit cards. Other brands like Upside, a business travel site, focus on employees by using branded value incentives to encourage employees to make lower cost business travel choices.

Innumerable retailers and consumer brands are also using gift cards as branded value. Gift cards act as tiny billboards in a consumer’s wallet and often lead to overspend by the recipient using the card. As gift cards have evolved from physical products into digital offerings like egifts, they’ve expanded their utility.

  1. The total media ad spending worldwide forecast was published by eMarketer in September 2015.