Feature Article - September/October 2012

Healthy Rewards

Recreation & Sporting Goods Encourage Family Fun & Fitness

By Emily Tipping

Want to create an incentive or reward program that really makes a difference? Why not go beyond the expected to offer something that will get your targets off the couch and moving? Something that moves them to enjoy good times with friends and family? Something that makes their leisure time just a little bit more exciting and fun?

Sporting goods and recreation merchandise might not always feature all the lights and action of electronics, or the bling of other categories, but when it comes to motivation, these kinds of products can really inspire.

"Although electronics continue to remain an in-demand product, not everyone wants to redeem for something in this category," said Dana LaSalvia, senior director of marketing for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., one of the industry's largest manufacturer's representatives, based in Pine Brook, N.J. "More and more industry studies are confirming that electronics are no longer the number-one redemption category. Recreational and sporting items are growing in popularity, and offering an attractive mix of mercnahdise in this category will help to reach another segment of your program's audience."

What makes these kinds of rewards so effective? Think about this: The focus on work-life balance has only grown in the past decade, as employees of all ages express a desire to not only find a better balance, but also look for ways to improve their effectiveness both on the job and off. That means higher levels of performance and productivity when they're on the clock (and sometimes even when they're not). And for many, it also means higher levels of engagement in leisure-time activities—when focused and engaged workers can blow off steam, release the pressure and get re-motivated to come back swinging.

"Recreational activities are an escape from the busy lives we all lead, and rewards programs recognize that their recipients want items that offer that escape," said Warren Weaver, director of national sales at Zane's Inc. in Branford, Conn.

"They are a healthy choice," he added. "It's what people are looking for. They might not want to spend the money on it, but if they can redeem for it at a low cost, the appeal increases."