Feature Article - September/October 2010

Go for the Win

Reward Hard Work With Recreation & Sporting Goods

By Emily Tipping

When it comes to selecting the most effective incentive merchandise to fill your program catalog, you've surely heard from the experts about the importance of trophy value. Trophy value refers to an item's brag-ability, in a way. An item with trophy value is one that your recipients will be proud to show off to co-workers, friends and family members. It's something valuable to the recipient, generally a well-known and respected brand, and often is something that the recipient wouldn't purchase with their own money, though this isn't always the case.

So, as long as you're rewarding your employees, your sales force, your partners and your customers with a trophy item, why not offer something that might garner them a trophy as well?

I'm talking, of course, about recreation and sporting goods, one of the cornerstones of the premium and incentive market. And, all jokes aside, there are many reasons to include such items in your program.

"Recreational and sporting items are integral in every incentive program," said Dennis Borst, president and chief operating officer of Los Angeles-based Patriot Marketing Group, a company that provides promotional and incentive programs, including Foot Locker gift cards. "The reasons being the trend toward staying fit, staying well, getting exercise, family participation, etc."

On top of that, he said, companies today are more commonly relying on wellness programs "as part of their employee engagement strategy." He added, "They are rewarding employees who lose weight, stop smoking, exercise, eat healthy and thus take less sick time off."

Jessica Erdman, sales and marketing manager at Oshkosh, Wis.-based Top Brands, agreed. "Recreation and sporting goods are a general category that can appeal to a broad audience of award winners," she said. "The category promotes an active lifestyle, which is becoming a big initiative for many corporations." Why not reward recipients with items that will reinforce that lifestyle and healthy behaviors?

If these reasons aren't enough, know that recreation and sporting goods are a worthwhile investment because of how much your program participants value them.

"Our research shows us that outdoor specialty retailers just had a record 7 percent increase in sales this July," said Sue Kuiper, special markets manager of Johnson Outdoors, a global outdoor recreation company based in Racine, Wis. "This supports the theory that people are willing to work harder to earn this type of reward and that when included in an incentive program, there will be winners!"