By Stephanie Crets

My birthday was a few months ago, but I look forward to it every year. Not only because of the celebrations with friends, but because of all the free items and rewards I'm offered from some of my most frequented retailers. From a free drink at Starbucks to the $40 gift card at Express for being an A-List member, I can really rack up the goods in the first couple weeks of January. Plus, the better the deal and the more time I have to redeem the deal, the more likely I am to shop at that retailer for the birthday bonus -- and maybe even purchase more. 

My feelings are shared by many U.S. consumers. In Alliance Data's Birthday Benefits Survey, results found that 40 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize their birthday. While it might seem silly to be excited that a retailer remembered your birthday -- especially with the zillions of Facebook posts, texts and calls you get that day -- it just adds that extra special touch to it.

I find a birthday reward e-mail to be almost like a birthday wish from me to me because I'll be treating myself to a few shopping trips and free items as a result of these birthday deals. (And for someone whose birthday lands just two weeks after Christmas, it's nice to get that extra boost to feel recognized when one's birthday is often overshadowed by the biggest shopping season of the year. December and fellow January babies can relate, I'm sure!)

Another finding of the survey is that people prefer a dollars-off reward instead of a percentage discount for their birthday reward. Sixty-six percent of people surveyed would rather spend a $15-off reward than a 15%-off reward. I imagine this holds true for all sales, not just birthday ones. People typically operate in dollars and cents rather than percentages, so it sounds like the better deal, anyway. No one wants to do the math, they want the best deal decided for them ahead of time. 

If you shop at a variety of places, odds are you might be bombarded with birthday offers, which is why the results found that if consumers receive five to nine offers, they are more likely to redeem only one to four of them. Why would that be?

Either the deal isn't good enough or they've gotten so many other messages, they either miss the offer or it goes unread until it's too late. Therefore, retailers need to make their special birthday message stand out from the crowd. Whether that means a more eye-catching e-mail or a better deal -- or both -- the redeeming efforts by the birthday celebrator might be multiplied. In addition, having the offer available for a longer period of time will also better the odds that someone will eventually get to the store or visit the online store, as the survey found 37 percent of consumers want offers that remain valid up to 60 days after their birthday.

Many consumers even prefer to have their birthday deal available before their birthday happens. And this is a great idea because maybe someone needs a new outfit for their upcoming birthday party. They can spend their birthday discount or reward at their favorite retailer to do just that.

In conclusion, birthday rewards and gifts from our favorite retailers can make us feel special and recognized as a valued, frequent shopper, and they're more likely to be redeemed if the reward offers something free, is a set amount of dollars off and is available for a long period of time. Therefore, retailers, give the consumers what they want and allow them to celebrate their birthdays by purchasing something at their favorite shops. 

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