Feature Article - January/February 2013

Where the Heart Is

Motivating Housewares to Feather Their Nest

By Enter Author Here

Whether it's a quiet cup of coffee with your trusty old dog at your feet or a lively conversation with friends and family around the dinner table, some of our most relaxing, our most entertaining, our most enjoyable moments take place at home. And everyone—from the mom of four to the couple embarking on outfitting their first home to the single guy who enjoys living on his own—has a need for all the accoutrements that outfit a home and make it swing in style.

These are some of the reasons that housewares—from kitchen goods to the tools of entertaining and even the gadgets that help keep the place in tiptop shape—are among the most popular incentive merchandise items.

"People redeem for household goods more often than you would think," reported Billie Reise, director of marketing for St. Louis-based Incentive Concepts. "Everyone needs and has a vacuum, a microwave, a toaster, etc."

"Program participants are influenced to choose rewards in the same way they are influenced to purchase retail products, and must be viewed as consumers," said Ken Fishman, housewares purchasing manager for Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "In order to fully engage participants and keep redemption rates high, your program rewards must mirror current retail trends and keep pace with consumer buying habits in order to be successful."

The fact of the matter is that home goods are necessary, but they also have seen a great deal of innovation, as well as the entry of celebrity-endorsed goods, which gives them greater appeal.

"In some cases, housewares in general is exceeding electronics in redemptions," said Norma Jean Knollenberg, owner and CEO of Top Brands Inc. in Oshkosh, Wis. "Having the latest and greatest 'new toy' is not only for electronics, tools, sports equipment, etc. Household products have improved as well. The ability to be able to 'earn' a quality, state-of-the-art product for the home, rather than purchase it, is a strong motivator."

Those top-quality goods are largely driven by top brands in the industry. These brand names—well recognized for the quality and style of the products they bring to the table—are what drive consumers to get the next latest and greatest gadget for their kitchen, dinnerware for their table or tool to keep their house in working order.

"Over the past six months," said Rick Low, national accounts manager with Hamilton Beach Brands, we continue to see brands driving industry growth. The small kitchen appliance category is up about 6 percent over last year. Keurig, Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach are the top three brands that resonate in programs and are valued by participants."

To ensure your incentives and rewards are as motivating, inspiring and, well, rewarding as they can be, you should be sure to turn to quality, brand-name housewares, with an eye to the most recent innovations, which have appeal across all demographics.

"Home goods appeal to all generations and fit into the everyday lifestyle," Fishman said. "From your cooking novice to expert designer, housewares are attractive to a wide range of participants. By offering a large variety of price points and quality brands, this category can be a very effective part of a well-rounded incentive and reward program."