By Melissa Van Dyke
Since 2008, the Incentive Research Foundation has been tracking trends in motivation, incentives and recognition. Based on internal and external research, the IRF has identified the following five important trends for merchandise incentives.
1. Budgets Are Back More than half of the program owners surveyed said the U.S. economy was having a positive impact—either moderately or significantly—on their ability to plan and implement merchandise incentive programs. Only one in 10 reported a negative impact. Therefore, strong investments are likely in merchandise incentives in the coming few years.
2. Limited Luxury Wearables and plaques no longer top the list for merchandise incentives, replaced by luxury, albeit limited, making its way back in the form of electronics, apparel, golf and jewelry. Flowers, food and trophies neared the bottom of the list. This trend reflects the broader consumer push toward slowly moving from the essential items desired during the recession to the more personally indulgent items that reflect a stronger economy.
3. Experience is Essential Some 25% to 30% of program owners (over the last three surveys) are adding experience-related rewards, including spa treatments and events. More than 25% said they would be increasing the merchandise award value in their programs or adding merchandise to their programs.
4. Watch Out for Wellness U.S. consumers increasingly focused on activities and behaviors to increase mental and/or physical well-being, a trend that will only continue to grow as government and businesses take more active roles in incenting wellness in the U.S.
5. Apps in Everything The last decade has shown a sharp uptick in industry’s ability to insert ever-increasing computing functionality into ever-decreasing devices. This can already be seen with sensor-enabled technologies that exist in everything from apparel, to sunglasses and watches.
Melissa Van Dyke is president of the Incentive Research Foundation
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