Feature Article - September/October 2013

One for All, And All for Fun

A Look at Recreation & Sporting Goods Incentives

By Emily Tipping

Planning Matters

Recreation and sporting goods can be found to suit the aspirations of any demographic, but you do have to keep demographics in mind when making your selection for your program.

"We like to stick with the basics, because you can reach a much larger swath of people," Weaver said. "One of the things you find, if a planner goes to pick an item, they see something that looks cool—maybe a single-speed urban vehicle—but it really narrows down the pool of people that can pick it. Knowing the customer is key."

For example, Weaver said, in putting together a program recently where participants are 65 and older, an aggressive mountain bike might not be the best choice. "Think of something comfortable to cruise on instead," he said. "It's a pretty basic idea, but it definitely makes a difference."

As with any incentive merchandise, you need to be aware of product life cycles, so you are not rewarding employees with out-of-date products. "Since our main focus is providing product for elite players, that means we have a shorter life span for the product," Cavallari said. "We are always trying to make it better each year, and that does not translate well for a two- and three-year wellness program.

"Therefore, we recommend product that relates to players of all skill levels and is not likely to change each year. A great example of this would be our badminton kit. We sell elite badminton rackets and change them each year. However, the set, which includes a net, shuttlecocks and four rackets, makes sense. It's also not gender-specific and something the entire family can play. In fact, there are more people that play badminton globally than play tennis."

Also, as you're putting together programs—especially those having to do with wellness—be aware of your rewards strategy, and its effect on program participants.

"Incentives should be used to encourage employees to incorporate new positive health behaviors or maintain existing positive behaviors," Knollenberg said. "Everyone who achieves a goal to change or maintain a behavior should receive something for his or her efforts."

She added that you should avoid offering rewards for the "best" or "most." "Employees should be striving to achieve reasonable goals, and rewarded when such goals are met," Knollenberg explained. "Ask employees on surveys or via focus groups what incentives might motivate them to participate in wellness activities."

And know that whether the program you're putting together is aiming to inspire people to greater levels of health—or simply higher levels of performance for your organizations—recreation and sporting goods can provide that little extra energy to get the ball rolling in the right direction.