Feature Article - September/October 2013

One for All, And All for Fun

A Look at Recreation & Sporting Goods Incentives

By Emily Tipping

"It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent." So said author and columnist Dave Barry. But despite the many thing—like bad weather—that can happen to put a damper on fun times spent outdoors, we still love to engage in outdoor recreation and sports. There's just something about a hike in the woods, a nice long bike ride, the stars seen through the top of a tent and a hole in one that keeps enthusiasts coming back for more.

And, if you're running incentives and rewards programs, trying to motivate and engage employees, customers, sales reps, channel partners and other team members, you'd be wise to make recreation and sporting goods part of your reward mix.


Because you'd be hard pressed to find any program participant who doesn't love a little fun and leisure time.

In fact, according to The Outdoor Foundation's "2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report," nearly half—49.4 percent—of all Americans were involved in outdoor activities in 2012. The number of participants is the highest recorded by the report, with nearly 142 million people enjoying outdoor recreation, an increase of 800,000 since 2011.

For this issue, Premium Incentive Products has gathered up some of the most popular recreation and sporting goods merchandise you might want to consider for your program.

The Gifts of Leisure & Wellness

What is it about recreation and sporting goods that makes them so attractive and rewarding?

"One of the great things about these products is they offer a relief from our daily lives—getting outside and having some fun," said Warren Weaver, director of national sales for Zane's Cycles Inc. "If you get a desk clock, you're just going to bring that to work. Recreation and sporting goods, you use in extracurricular activities. It's a feel-good thing. When you're using these items, it's usually for something enjoyable. For the most part, you're going out for a leisure activity."

But recreation and sporting goods don't only offer people a way to get outside and have some fun. They also can provide a great support for people working toward wellness-related goals. Perhaps for that reason, you can often find this type of merchandise used to motivate and reward participants in wellness programs.

"We see a lot of these items used with health and wellness programs," Weaver said.

"Sporting goods promote not only a competitive atmosphere, but also good health," added Chris Cavallari, national sales manager, Special Markets, Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

"People are becoming more active," said Norma Jean Knollenberg, owner and CEO of Top Brands Inc., "and combined with a push toward wellness among companies, that makes recreation and sporting merchandise an ideal fit for almost any program. As the health and wellness push continues to stay strong, many individuals are becoming more active, and merchandise such as bikes, tents, hiking poles and fishing equipment promote active lifestyles."

Nearly half—49.4 percent—of all Americans were involved in outdoor activities in 2012.

—The Outdoor Foundation's
"2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report"

Even better, when people get active in the sport or activity of their choice, they're not the only ones who get to reap the benefits. "Healthy employees benefit companies with lower insurance premiums, so including this type of merchandise benefits the corporation as well as the participant," Knollenberg said.

"Health and wellness have been the most exciting trends in the industry," Cavallari said. "Fighting childhood obesity and getting adults more active is an important topic of conversation with key clients. Having healthier employees and possibly lowering the cost of medical care is a winning scenario."

Weaver explained that for many companies working on wellness, rewards are given to employees for engaging in specific health-plan-related activities, such as taking health risk assessments. "They do the kinds of things just to try to keep tabs on people and get them to do the things that, unfortunately, are difficult to get them to do," he explained.

"Many wellness programs that reward participants incorporate merchandise in this category, as it's almost all geared toward keeping people active—which means a healthier workforce," Knollenberg said. "Pedometers are a common item in such programs, but there are other items directly connected to exercise and fitness that would work well."

The points awarded for such programs and activities tend to be on a lower scale—not necessarily enough for something like a bicycle or a kayak, but more for accessory-type items, which are just as necessary to participants in such activities. "We see a lot of things like bike accessory items: helmets, pumps and pairs of bike gloves," Weaver said.

"Sports and recreations—whether indoors or out—have long provided inspiration, both from professional athletes doing outstanding things and from the casual participant striving to better themselves," Knollenberg added. "So it makes sense to tie the incentive and reward mix in with so many positive feelings and connotations. Now more than ever, as screen time eats up ever-larger portions of our work and play, people can be motivated to do their best by providing them a reward that will get them moving or just having fun."