Guest Column - March/April 2010

A Cause for Incentives

By Dana Slockbower, CRP

t's a proven fact. The majority of people get that "warm and fuzzy" feeling when they know they have done something good for others. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, a team of economists and psychologists at the University of Oregon found that making charitable donations activates sections of the brain that are associated with pleasure.

So receiving a reward for yourself while helping someone else at the same time can potentially double your enjoyment! With that being said, there has been a growth in the redemption of charitable and environmental awards in individual incentive programs over the past few years, and there is no indication that this reward experience trend will be changing anytime soon.

Creating satisfied participants who feel that they have contributed to the overall well-being of society makes for a rewarding experience. This holds true for those participants who redeem for a product that in turn donates a portion of its proceeds to charity, those that receive rewards from companies who have been deemed "green" friendly, and those making a direct charitable donation such as redeeming for the Charity Choice gift card.

Products for a Cause

Have you noticed all the merchandise that has filled the aisles of the retail floors in bubblegum pink? Breast Cancer awareness has been a focal point for companies looking to take part in the charity arena while still maintaining, if not increasing, their product sales. KitchenAid, in particular, has an entire campaign devoted to the cause called "Cook For A Cure." As one of the top redeeming categories in loyalty programs, housewares now has the added bonus of donating to a worthy cause with the redemption of those products making it a mutually beneficial partnership.

Other companies are starting to take notice. Salvatore Ferragamo, for example, has created a specially released Ferragamo Pink Collection to raise funds for beneficence. The collection consists of a wide range of shoes, handbags, T-shirts, sunglasses and accessories where at least 10 percent of the sales will go to breast cancer charities and foundations to support the breast cancer victims.

Canon, Baccarat and Gaiam are a few other well-known premier brands that offer a special line of "pink products" to aid in the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.

The Future Is Looking Green

A recent article from Chief Marketer stated that an important part of creating a positive image for your company nowadays involves being environmentally friendly and responsible. But it doesn't just end there. Once you have your company aligned with ecologically sound regulations, you must get that message out to all your program participants whether they be employees, clients, customers or the community.

Therefore selecting an incentive provider that works with environmentally friendly initiatives is an important determining factor to consider. For example, Monster's line of innovative new Monster GreenPower II products are designed to help customers easily save energy and money, and Denon eliminates heavy metals from their products and their manufacturing process.

More and more people are looking to hand over their hard-earned money to companies that actually care. So, aside from the actual economic benefits of recycling and energy-efficiency methods, these companies are gaining a cause-worthy advantage over their competitors.

According to a survey conducted by Panel Intelligence LLC, 80 percent of corporate sustainability executives in Fortune 500 companies across North America were planning to maintain or increase levels of sustainability-related spending, despite economic conditions this past year. Incorporating eco-friendly products into your incentives mix is just good practice for everyone involved.

Not only does Rymax partner with more than 35 green-conscious manufacturers, but we are making internal strides to be more green-friendly as well. For example, we have taken part in numerous green-friendly efforts including the participation in the Safe Shredding Recycling Program where we were given a certificate verifying how many trees we had saved in one year. This kind of conscientiousness is noted by others and aids in fostering goodwill for clients and participants alike.