Feature Article - March/April 2011

Get Wired

Electronics Incentives Amp Up the Motivation

By Emily Tipping

Always at the forefront of innovation, electronics companies have continued to exercise their creative inventiveness—and consumers' imaginations—through the course of a recession. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, sales of consumer electronics are set to hit a new record this year, reaching $186 billion. This growth is largely driven, the CEA reports, by a rise in demand for tablet PCs and devices that are interconnected.

In fact, it is hard to imagine American life without this connectivity. We use our smartphones to log onto social networks and connect with friends and family near and far. We rely on digital cameras to record life events, and we rely on digital TVs and home audio systems for daily entertainment.

This immersion in consumer electronics largely drives the segment's appeal in incentive and reward programs, where these kinds of products have long held the top position for most-redeemed items.

"The world of consumer electronics has never been hotter," said Noah Lapine of Lapine Associates Inc. "First, we have great technology at prices consumers once dreamed of. Flat-screen LCD televisions that used to sell for thousands are now available for less than $500. And technologies are also easier to use, enabling incentive programs to provide more out-of-the-box solutions. Add this to smaller packaging that decreases storage space and shipping fees, and you've got the perfect storm—products with more features that are easier to use, all at a lower cost to you and the consumer."

Shelly Colla, sales manager, Strategic Accounts, at Sony Electronics, said that part of the reason for electronics' outstanding performance in incentive and reward programs is their broad appeal. "Everybody in the family can enjoy them," she said. "It's not just about getting it for yourself. You're going to use it as part of your life and your family's life."

Leigh Sims, purchasing manager for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., agreed that it's the universal appeal of electronics that makes this the number-one redemption category for his company. Electronics, he said, "attract consumers across every demographic range."

He added, "We are seeing continued growth in the market with manufacturers releasing 'hot' items, from 3-D TVs to tablet computers. This transcends into the incentive market as people associate status and success with electronics due to their high perceived value. …The trophy value of high-end electronics is a constant reminder of your accomplishments every time it's turned on."

The ultimate in aspirational products, electronics "…let you make a statement about who you are, and who you want to be," Lapine said. "In an incentive program, this is magnified as recipients often have the ability to acquire products one notch higher than if they were standing on the floor of Best Buy—turning a product that may have been seen as a need into a welcome indulgence."