Feature Article - March/April 2010

Entertain Us

Electronics & Gadgets to Motivate Your Most Worthy

By Emily Tipping

Whether you consider this a good thing or a bad thing, Americans are very exposed to screens—from their television at home, which the average American spends more than four hours a day watching, to computer screens at work, iPod screens as we work out and GPS screens as we drive. The fact of the matter is, Americans love their gadgets. They love electronics.

"Consumers have a very deep, personal connection with electronics items, making them an important part of their daily lives," said Shelly Colla, Premium Incentive Group sales manager for Sony Electronics, "whether it's enjoying 'movie night' with the family using an HD flat-panel set and Blu-ray player, capturing birthdays, anniversaries or other special events with a D-SLR or HD camcorder, or taking favorite books or music with them wherever they go."

For this reason, electronics have been and will continue to be one of the most popular items in any incentive program that uses them.

"The electronics section is the number-one redeeming category in most incentive programs because electronics have a universal appeal in all demographics," said Brian Rivolta, vice president of strategic partnerships for Incentive Concepts. "There is a certain trophy value in being able to say that you received the new 42-inch LCD on your wall from your employer for doing an exceptional job at work, or that you redeemed your credit card points for that new Blu-ray player."

Colla agreed with the assertion that these serve as excellent trophies for those dedicated and loyal enough to redeem for them. "Electronics are trophy items that employees are not only proud to own, but also become extensions of their personalities," she said. "And as the 'nesting' trend continues, consumers are looking for ways to enhance their entertainment experience and comfort at home."

The "nesting" trend Colla refers to has been widely acknowledged by incentive industry experts, who have seen interest growing in home items over the past year. As the economy has struggled, consumers are staying closer to home, and perhaps because of this, they also are seeking to enhance their experience there.

"Consumer electronics allow people to do this in a very unique, individual-and very tangible-way," Colla said. "If anything, these trends will increase, not decrease, so rewarding employees with products that they really want is the best way to keep them motivated."

Staying connected is another big trend, whether it's through our smart phones or our laptops that accompany us everywhere we go.

"Obviously we try to stay connected at all times," said Allyson Krichman, director of merchandising and sales operations for Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "We're into gadgets. Anything like e-readers and iPods—anything that enhances connectivity is going to be big. We're living in a society where if our Blackberry goes down, we don't know what to do. Electronic items are things people use every day."

"In addition, most buyers are always looking for the 'latest and greatest,' and there isn't a category that changes more often than electronics," Rivolta added. "The constant changes over the past several years in everything from MP3 players to flat-panel TVs leave recipients always looking for the next great technology."