Feature Article - March/April 2017

Powerful Motivation

Electronics Incentives to Drive Peak Performance

By Emily Tipping


When it comes to incentives and rewards, consumer electronics have long held the top spot in terms of redemptions and usage. And, despite some shifting of categories when the economy weakens and strengthens again, electronics continue to maintain their perennial popularity. In fact, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) in its recent 'IRF 2017 Trends Study,' electronics is the most popular category of merchandise measured, with 75 percent of respondents indicating they see these items being included in incentive programs. In times of economic expansion, according to the IRF report, electronics have a typically strong showing.

Eric Anderson, director of sales for PMC, which provides a wide range of electronics to the incentive market, electronics continue to be popular, though, he said, "They have leveled out because technology has slowed." He added, "I think we are in a period of redeem-for-replacement as opposed to redeem-for-a-new-must-have."

That said, the reach of the electronics category has expanded, and while TVs, cameras and audio components like speakers and headphones might be the first items that come to mind, there are new products entering this space all the time.

Electronics, said Carey Berg, vice president, Special Markets, Vivitar Sakar, is "… pushing into areas where previously the products were not electronics, like Health, Wellness & Fitness electronics, and newly created categories like sports action cameras and car dash cams."

"Electronics continue to be remarkably popular in awards programs," said Kenneth Fishman, director of purchasing for Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "The trends took a slight shift from flat-screen TVs to wireless audio, web-connected devices, smart watches and areas that present newer technology.

"It is no secret that the workforce is being taken over by the younger generation," he added. "By the year 2020, half the workforce will be made up of gen Y or millennials. They think differently than previous generations, and more importantly, they respond differently to work-life and management. They look for ways that are easier, faster, more flexible and efficient. With that said, you always have to keep your incentives up-to-date with the latest gadgets and tech."

Berg agreed, adding, "People love gadgets, always have, always will, and now more so because of all the Bluetooth devices. They are connected to your smartphone, so the smartphone is at the core of many of these devices."

Televisions continue to be popular, Anderson reported. But in addition, streaming devices are seeing growing popularity. And, "We are seeing more and more fitness wearables slotted into programs," he said. "Big-screen TVs give any program the pop and pizazz to motivate people for an event, but in all reality, all forms of consumer electronics redeem very well in incentive programs."

Meanwhile, Berg said some of the most popular items he's seeing include "… Bluetooth speakers, primarily waterproof, Bluetooth activity trackers and waterproof cameras, which are good gifts for remote event trips."

"Some of our most popular items are Amazon Echo, Tap, Iluv Audclick, 808 Audio Canz Bluetooth Portable Speaker, Porsche Design SPACE ONE Noise Cancelling Headphone by KEF, Skullcandy Wireless Smokin' Buds 2," Fishman added. "As you can see, everything is electronic, portable and wireless. With technology rapidly increasing and continually improving, 2017 will quickly bring new gadgets to eventually replace older ones. Therefore, you always have to be aware of what is happening in the industry."

Go Go Gadgets!

The fact is, electronics have grown to encompass a wide range of categories and lifestyles, providing gadgets that make everything from grocery shopping to listening to tunes to turning on the lights when you're out of town easier.

"Electronics is a very exciting category since it offers numerous products that improve our quality of life," Fishman said. "These products have a high reward value, which makes the consumer proud of their redemption. We are constantly surrounded by gadgets and tech that demand our attention. This will never slow down.

"Millennials also bring a unique, tech-savvy mindset to the workplace, expecting systems to work with technology and having the must-haves of the tech world," he added. "Therefore, it is important that our programs provide the latest in electronics, and we continue to evolve our services as an industry to accommodate that."

Figuring out how to engage, motivate and work with millennials has been a running topic in business journals for at least the past decade, as this generation has swelled the ranks of the workforce. What motivates them most, in terms of incentives and rewards, may differ slightly from previous generations.

"Millennials are cord cutters," Anderson said. "They tend to go with much more streaming of content, so if you are building a program and adding consumer electronics with a majority of this demographic, be sure to include step-up product that allows for streaming, versus entry-level product that will not stream."

Of course, just because they're the biggest name in the news, that doesn't mean millennials are the only demographic you need to consider as you add electronics to your program mix.

"Millennials are of course becoming a bigger factor since they're the largest demographic generation since the baby boomers," Berg said. "But the boomers are still going to have an effect for years to come. They (we) have disposable income and want to still be cool (60 is the new 40?), so sports-related electronics like sports action cameras, and health, wellness and fitness electronics will be key since they want to stay healthy and have fun."

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