Guest Column - March/April 2009

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

By Dana Slockbower, CRP


ne of the biggest challenges in incentives today is catering to the various preferences of so many generations. From baby boomers to the millennials, each is inspired by something completely different. Be it a lifestyle investment or an impulse redemption, incentive programs have got to cover all the bases in order to appeal across all generations.

Baby Boomers

Definitions vary, but generally, baby boomers are considered those born between 1946 and 1963. They are self-indulgent and are willing to wait to get exactly what they want. In terms of incentives, they're not motivated by cash. To them, cash = compensation = money to pay the bills—not exactly a rewarding experience. This generation wants a real, tangible reward. When participating in an incentive program, they are most likely to bank their points, hoarding them until the time is just right to indulge on that special something.

Baby boomers see value in the quality of a product; they are not easily influenced by flash-in-the-pan trends, but are willing to bide their time to "spend more to get more." They make calculated purchases and understand the value of their dollar—or in this case—their points.

To appeal to this generation, a rewards program mix must include true luxuries—not necessarily materialistic items, but high-quality, long-lasting products. To keep baby boomers engaged, an incentive program should include some high-end options, product that is "worth the wait." As long as it's attainable, boomers will aspire for it.

And, as the first generation of dual-career couples, baby boomers lack free time. Since, unfortunately, "time" is not available as a redemption option, products to make the best of the time they have are a great alternative. Electronics, appliances and furniture are all examples of unique lifestyle-enhancing rewards.

Flat-panel televisions are a great staple. Whether it's a 50-inch for the family room or a 32-inch for the bedroom, there are a range of quality screens from brands like Samsung and Toshiba that are at the best-in-class for technologies and features.

This generation has been working hard for a long time. They're thinking about retirement, and with that comes thinking about making improvements to the home, like a bathroom upgrade. Turning an ordinary bathroom into a spa-like retreat can be a huge investment—inspire incentive program participants by including high-end bathroom fixtures as a redemption option. You can find high-quality, high-style products ranging from towel warmers and shower heads to high-efficiency toilets with soft-close lids. Offer boomers reputable brand-name products—they will be impressed.