Feature Article - September/October 2016

Reward Your Winners

Recreation & Sporting Goods to Motivate Top Performance

By Emily Tipping

Now that we've shut down the lights on another round of Olympic Games, it's time to look back to ourselves and see what kind of winners we can encourage and become. The Olympics often give rise to increasing interest in certain sports, but the fact is, most people have a favorite activity, hobby or sport, and when you want to cultivate gold-medal winners at your organization, one of the best tools in your coaching pocket is incentives that help them reach their active and recreational goals, and fill up their leisure time with fun and rewarding activities

Whether it's supporting family fun in the great outdoors through games, canoes and camping packages, supporting a new fitness goal with trackers and bikes, or upping their game with golf gadgets and gear, you know that rewarding with rec and sporting goods is a smart strategy to keep you in the game of improving performance.

"It really boils down to the fun factor," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager for Top Brands Inc. "Rec and sporting goods are a blast to use! This category has products that are all about getting outside, destressing and enjoying time with family and friends. That is a really powerful motivator for any recipient."

"As a culture, we are pulled in more directions than ever, and we are busier than ever," added Brian Rivolta, senior vice president of sales, Incentive Concepts. "We use our down time to reinvest in ourselves through activities we enjoy—shooting baskets with our kids or playing a game of bag toss in the back yard with our family. We are maxed out with things to do, and we want to max out our leisure time as well."

This always-popular category of incentive and reward merchandise has mass appeal largely because it covers so many of the things we love to do. From favorite sports and hobbies to tailgating and just throwing a ball around in the yard with friends and family, there's something here for everyone.

New trends in this area are being driven largely by the growing awareness of what excites the millennial generation, as well as our increasing "connectedness" via social media and other technology tools.

"Millennials are the largest generation in the history of the United States and are reaching prime spending age," Rivolta explained. "This is a very active and social group of consumers, and we are seeing a surge in social-oriented categories such as outdoor games. Additionally, we are seeing a huge trend in connected devices and the advent of using technology to connect our physical activity to the virtual world."

Health & Wellness

Before we get to the socially connected fun provided by community bike rides and group games, let's look at that trend of connectedness. More and more people are using their devices—smartphones, smart watches and more—to keep track of their daily activity and other health-focused stats. This, in turn, has led some companies to incorporate tools like fitness trackers and more into programs that specifically focus on encouraging physical activity and other get-healthy goals.

Rewarding with recreation and sporting goods is a smart strategy to keep you in the game of improving performance.

"Wearable technology continues to be in high demand and is arguable the most 'viral' product to hit this category in the past 10 years," Glamann said. "Companies continue to refine and add features to make sure these products continue to innovate and have staying power.

"Health and wellness programs across the country are also utilizing fitness bands of all types to encourage their employees to track their activity and push toward a healthier lifestyle," he added.

Rivolta agreed that there is a big focus on wellness and healthy lifestyles, which can be supported by more than just fitness trackers.

"There is definitely a renewed focus on wellness programs and a trend toward active, healthy lifestyles," he said. "Many of our customers have been drawn to items such as the Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones to pair with their mobile device and are great to use while walking, running, cycling and even lifting weights."