Guest Column - November/December 2017

Strategic Alliances

Diversifying Your Portfolio With the Right Brand Partners

By Stephanie Sheehan


The concept of reward marketing can be traced back to 1896 when the S&H Green Stamps retail loyalty program first made its way into the homes (and hearts) of consumers. By the 1960s, the program had grown to be widely recognized, earning participation from an estimated 80 percent of U.S. households. In fact, it has been said that at its peak, the program issued three times as many stamps as the United States Postal Service.

According to an article in The Star-Ledger written by Greg Hatala, "by the 1960s, the S&H 'Ideabook' catalog contained 178 pages of items, from dishtowels and ash trays to fishing poles, bicycles, furniture, appliances, and a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica."

Ultimately, what we learned from S&H's program is that variety was—and still is—important.

Choice Matters

The power of choice is a critical component of loyalty and incentive merchandise programs, not only for the reward recipient, but also for the sender. Ultimately, the product selection can be the determining factor in whether the customer loyalty, sales incentive, employee recognition, education or wellness program participant stays motivated.

In order to appease varying audiences, it is important to create a diversified portfolio of offerings across many categories of merchandise.

There are several layers to creating a strategy, but a solid foundation to start with is simply to implement a good-better-best scenario within a category based on price tiers. Marketing demographic factors such as age range, family size, sex, etc., are also important in order to complete each category offering.

Partnering for Success

As a leading loyalty marketing provider, Rymax offers more than 15,000 products from more than 350 sought-after brands. We provide our corporate customers with access to a healthy representation of aspirational brands and products across multiple categories, including: audio, home automation, bedding, tabletop, fashion, wearables, luxury goods, tech, timepieces, beauty, home and office, sports and outdoors, fitness, toys, travel, and more.

Rymax carefully monitors and constantly reevaluates its brand partnerships to be sure the company is providing adequate representation without oversaturating any one particular category.

Merchandise partners are selected that have powerful branding and a captive, loyal audience.

As such, it is important to tell a complete brand story by offering a full suite of products. This is particularly important in the fashion category. For example, Rymax is not only exclusive with Michael Kors handbags and small leather goods, but also carries Michael Kors timepieces, sunglasses, fragrance and cold weather accessories through multiple licensee partners.

A similar principle is implemented when it comes to fostering ecosystems, or products that connect and work well with one another. For example, Rymax is the only direct distribution partner for Nest within our channel and, as such, it supplements that network with products that are compatible, such as Nest Thermostat and Amazon's Alexa.

When your partner has an extensive portfolio, it gives them the ability to create specialized product bundles, unique to a client's program, to strengthen the perceived value and functionality of the items. These bundles can be a grouping of products and or categories that are not seen at retail across multiple brands.

A diverse portfolio of products with high brand equity and the "latest and greatest" models delivers a level of exclusivity for recipients and program participants that is unmatched.

Perceived value is critical to the success, growth and longevity of any rewards program, so it's crucial to offer an assortment that strategically targets your audience with a wide variety of trending, premium products that excite and motivate.

Finding the Right Fit

This channel is not one-size-fits-all. Everyone has different needs, wants, desires, hobbies, etc., and merchandise is the perfect way to foster those prospects and provide something tangible and memorable for your end user. Aligning a program with the right brand partners and assortment of product elevates the experience for the end user.

Stephanie Sheehan is Director of Vendor Relations for Rymax Marketing Services, Inc., a full-service loyalty marketing provider in the incentive industry solely focused on creating programs and events to drive ROI through brand name rewards. For more than 20 years organizations partnered with Rymax have seen an increase in employee performance and retention, customer loyalty and overall revenue. For more information, visit www.rymaxinc.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie Sheehan is Director of Vendor Relations for Rymax Marketing Services, Inc., a full-service loyalty marketing provider in the incentive industry solely focused on creating programs and events to drive ROI through brand name rewards. For more than 20 years organizations partnered with Rymax have seen an increase in employee performance and retention, customer loyalty and overall revenue. For more information, visit www.rymaxinc.com.