Feature Article - March/April 2015

A Closer Look at IMRA

Association Brings Service, Value to Incentive Channel

By Deborah L. Vence

The Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance (IMRA), a strategic industry group of the Incentive Marketing Association, is carrying on its mission this year to build on its services and bring value to association members.

"The Incentive Manufacturers and Representative Alliance (IMRA) is the branded merchandise arm of the incentive industry, looking to strengthen the manufacturer and representative working relationship. The need for information is at the heart of this rep/manufacturer relationship," said Bill Martocci, president of IMRA and Carlisle Sales & Marketing Inc., an independent manufacturers' representative group.

"The supplier needing longer arms to reach the masses entrusts their reps to know what is going on in the territory, provide dedicated coverage on top accounts, and report back how the product is perceived," he said. "These reps have heavy communication with the brand , new items being introduced, the status of current products and backorders, pricing changes, and, of course, stock availability."

IMRA's membership includes representatives, manufacturers, national marketing companies, technology/resource providers, industry trade press and key industry stakeholders.

"Reps and manufacturers working together enables customers to be confident they have the best product choices for the programs they are running or corporate gifts they look to provide," Martocci said.

And, besides looking at the industry as a whole and for ways that it can bring new suppliers and representatives into the marketplace, IMRA looks at what it can do to help its customers.

"We are expanding on some research that was done by the IMA on how big the incentive industry is. IMRA wanted to find out more about the companies that are buying incentives. So, we commissioned a white paper to be done and hope to have it completed this year," said Tasha Sharp, a director with IMRA and president of Phoenix-based Sharp Incentives.

IMRA's plan this year is to "complete a survey by the Incentive Research Federation to better understand the use and sourcing of merchandise in incentive programs by small to mid-sized companies," added Ted Moravec, vice president of IMRA and of Elite Creations, a national distributor of name-brand products for the premium and incentive market.

In this issue, we explore the importance of IMRA and its members as well as some of the latest trends in merchandise incentives.