Feature Article - March/April 2013

Power Up Your Motivation

Electronics Still Lead Merchandise Incentives

By Emily Tipping

Whoever said there's nothing new under the sun never had a run-in with the near-weekly developments in consumer electronics and technology. While not every flip of a calendar page delivers a strikingly new and innovative, must-have product, it does seem as though the incremental advances to the gadgets and gizmos we love to collect arrive with reliable regularity. This constant change and continual advancement is part of what makes consumer electronics such a perennial favorite for participants in incentive, recognition and reward programs.

"In electronics, new technologies are released frequently, generating excitement and leading to an 'I want that' reaction for redeemers," said Haig Vartivarian, purchasing manager of electronics for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., in Pine Brook, N.J. "Each new product launch is something everyone has to have, but might not be able to purchase. Redemption rates will continue to remain high in this category as long as a program's merchandise mix is current and reflects the latest products and technology."

According to Eric Anderson, director of sales with PMC, consumer electronics are a solid draw in the premium incentive marketplace, making up at least 50 to 60 percent of the business. "They make up a large portion of the redemption categories," he said.

Anderson added that the types of electronics that are popular change over time, as new products come on the market. "A couple of years back, the new flat-panel TV was the holy grail, but now we're seeing more tablets from all manufacturers redeeming like crazy," he said. "There are also some ancillary categories that are popular, like soundbars for flat-panel TVs, which are doing well because you can't get the good sound quality from your TV with its speakers being so small. And, believe it or not, even with cell phone technology improving so much, digital cameras are still popular—not just point-and-shoot, but digital SLRs."

Vartivarian agreed that electronics will continue to be the top redemption category for incentive programs. "As a program manager, it's important to apply new product and trends into your rewards offerings to keep engagement high," he said. "Regardless of the season or demographic, our redemption reports consistently show that participants are redeeming for large-screen TVs, ultrabook laptops, speaker docks, headphones, home theaters and tablets."

Vartivarian added that the still-recovering economy might lead participants to avoid purchases of unnecessary products. However, "…they will use their points and treat themselves to a product they truly want," he said.