Feature Article - September/October 2015

Inspired by Fun & Fitness

Recreation & Sporting Goods to Fill Their Free Time

By Emily Tipping

When you get a little bit of free time, what's your favorite thing to do? That question has a huge variety of answers. We all have favorite pastimes, from watching sports to playing them, camping to kayaking, biking to hiking, and so much more. And the recreation and sporting goods that support us in our favorite endeavors is a vast and vastly varied arena, which is one of the reasons it has so much appeal.

"We are busier than ever with work, family commitment, kids sports, etc.—we try to cram it all in," said David Vogrin, director of marketing, Escalade Sports. "When we do have time for recreation, we want to make the most of it, and we want quality products, equipment and games that will allow us to do that and maximize our recreation time.

While it's virtually impossible to choose a single item that will appeal across the board, adding a good mix of recreation and sporting goods to your rewards lineup is sure to appeal to an audience of busy professionals who want nothing more than to have a little fun in their free time.

"Sporting goods and recreational products are ideal as incentives and rewards because they are discretionary purchases, and they can help us to provide balance to our otherwise hectic lives," Vogrin said.

So what are we talking about when we talk about recreation and sporting goods?

"It really is a broad category that encompasses products that fit a wide range of activities," said Chad Glamman, marketing manager at Top Brands Inc. "You have everything from team sports to golf and all of the outdoor sports. All of the outdoor activities have products that are well represented in this category. Camping, fishing, hunting, cycling and hiking all have really strong appeal with award winners."

But despite the fact that the category is so broad, that doesn't mean it doesn't have an overarching theme.

"The recurring theme of all products that would fall into this category is that they encourage and motivate those who use them to go outdoors and take part in a physical activity," Glamman added. "Top Brands carries a wide variety of name-brand recreation and sporting goods. We have fishing rods, reels and tackle from Eagle Claw; camping recreation and hunting knives from Buck; tents, sleeping bags and hiking accessories from Wenzel; tailgating shelters and furniture from Tailgaterz; bicycles and accessories from Huffy; and tailgating and outdoor games from Triumph Sports USA and Spalding."

In fact, Spalding is a new addition to the Top Brands lineup, even further expanding the company's reach in this area of the market. "Spalding has been a widely recognized and established name in the sporting goods category for over 100 years, and Top Brands is excited to be able to offer these high-quality sporting goods to our customers."

Escalade Sports also offers a big range of options, all available through Incentive Concepts—everything " from indoor games, outdoor games to residential in-ground basketball goals to emerging sports such as pickleball," Vogrin said.

And this, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to merchandise offered to the incentive market. You can find a wide range of suppliers providing recreation and sporting goods for incentive and reward programs, including gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, camping and outdoor gear from Coleman or Cabela's, a variety of fun and fitness options from Rymax, bicycles and more from Bike USA Inc. and Zanes Inc., binoculars and more from Bushnell, Nikon and others; sporting goods and golf equipment from Wilson and so much more.

"Rec and sporting goods will continue to feature prominently as incentives and awards because they are meant to be experienced and shared," said Norma Jean Knollenberg, CPIM, CEO and owner of Top Brands. "Whether it is a weekend camping trip with the family or tailgating outside of a football game with friends, they create positive memories. When a recipient is able to share their award in a meaningful situation with the people who matter to them, that feeling of accomplishment and recognition they experienced when earning the award is renewed."