Feature Article - January/February 2017

Turning Houses Into Homes

The Most Motivating Housewares & Home Goods

By Emily Tipping

People vary. That was the conclusion of joint research from the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), which found that when you added up all of the reward preferences of its study audience, almost no two were exactly alike. But it's not just true of the way we like to earn awards. It's also true of the awards we prefer—and beyond that, it's true of our personal tastes and styles, the way we outfit our homes, the hobbies we love best.

For you, the idea of an ideal night at the homestead might involve setting the family up with some popcorn in front of the TV for a movie. For me, it might be spinning records on the turntable while enjoying a hot cup of adults-only coffee. But whatever your preference, and mine, and theirs, there's a way to fire up our motivation with just the right reward. And housewares and other goods for the home, which saw a tremendous surge in popularity around the time the economy was turning downward, continue to demonstrate strong performance, driven by constant innovations, and everyone's desire to turn their house into the perfect home, suited just to their tastes.

"Housewares have been the saving grace in a lot of programs this year because they're so strong in redeeming still," said Eric Anderson, director of sales, PMC. He added that while consumer electronics—long considered king of the incentives and rewards hill—still perform well, they're not seeing the same volume as in previous years.

Why? "A lot of people have what they want already," he said, "so the housewares category, with its new innovations and trends, has been doing fantastic business the past couple of years, and that's contributed to growth."

"The appliance industry has always been popular with consumers," Steve Izykowski, national sales manager, Hamilton Beach, said. "Adding meaningful innovation to help consumers get things done easier in the kitchen is what it is about, and this will continue going forward."

When the recession hit in late 2007, it had a big impact on people's lifestyles, and many looked for ways to save. At that point, a lot of incentive program participants started looking to earn housewares, as a way of smoothing that change. Once the economy began to recover, earners simply shifted their sights.

"For sure, the recession led to a lot of people cutting costs by eating more at home, and in turn necessitated products that would help with that lifestyle change," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager, Top Brands Inc. "When the economy strengthened, housewares evolved as well. High-end coffee machines and drink stations are now prevalent and looked at as more of a luxury than as a necessity."

Luxury or necessity, the right combination of tools and home comforts can have a big impact on your quality of life, whether it's how you spend your Monday morning or how you celebrate your Saturday evening.

"Many gifts are special occasion items that you forget about day-to-day," said Becky Sawicki, director of special markets, JURA Inc. "But great housewares products become part of your daily ritual. When you hear someone talking about their coffee maker, they're not just talking about an appliance on their countertop—they're talking about a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Quality housewares essentials are always appreciated and remembered."

People continue to look to housewares " because everyone has a kitchen and is looking for ways to spend less time preparing meals," Izykowski added. "Appliances can help the cook spend less time away from their guests."

So what do you need to know to stay on top of the latest and greatest in this top reward category?

"We are definitely living in a gadget-obsessed society," Glamann said, "and the housewares category is constantly innovating. Award-winners are always on the lookout for what's next, whether it's the latest in smart home devices or something they saw their favorite celebrity chef using on TV. Housewares make for fun items perfect for entertaining guests."