Feature Article - September/October 2020

Get a Move On

Winning With Recreation & Sporting Goods Incentives

By Emily Tipping


No one could have predicted that a global pandemic would arise and force people into their homes for work, school and play. But as COVID-19 spread around the world, that's exactly what happened, and some of the results were surprising.

For instance, if you were looking to buy a new bike, kayak, canoe or treadmill over the summer, you might have discovered the virtual shelves had less stock than expected.

In fact, as people and their families stayed at home, many turned to the only outlets left to them, replacing closed gyms with at-home fitness equipment, substituting backyard campouts for family vacations, and looking for ways to get a little R&R closer to home.

Recreation and sporting goods are always strong performers in incentives and rewards programs. As Corey Wolfe, director of sales at Links Unlimited, explained, "Most individuals who play sports have a passion for the sport they play. So receiving a sporting good as a reward allows a company to use a product to tie into their target sports passion."

In the midst of a pandemic, sporting and recreation goods have become one of the hottest items going.

"It is a new world for sure," said Warren Weaver, director of national sales for Zane's Inc. "Recreational products had always been a reasonably strong redeemer, as people put more emphasis on their health and well-being both on the job and at home. Additionally, companies have migrated to using more of these products in promotion of these types of activities. And then COVID happened…"

And what has been the effect of the pandemic on this market?

"Having an 'effect' would be the understatement of the year," Weaver exclaimed. "Total and utter decimation would be more appropriate.

In the midst of a pandemic, sporting and recreation goods have become one of the hottest items going.

"In the early weeks of COVID, like most companies, the lock-downs came and the forecast drew down sales forecasts by 20% to 30%," he said. But then, "it blew up" and people started gobbling up any recreational product they could find to use around the home.

"Bike shops were so inundated, they were forced to close their doors for part of the week just to complete tasks," Weaver said. "An appetite for anything and everything recreational took hold that no supply chain in history has been built for.

"The incentive side, as it usually does, paralleled this trend, and within mere weeks the out-of-stocks began, and the long list of items that must be pulled from offerings began to grow," he added. "Even with no offerings in all major programs, the requests keep coming, the demand seems to be holding, and the supply chain is churning at its best, which currently only keeps it at zero. Unfortunately, it appears that it will take the balance of 2020 to start turning the corner and moving the trend on stock to meet this incredible demand."

Wolfe agreed that sporting goods have seen an uptick amidst the pandemic. "I think sports in general that lend themselves to social distancing have flourished in participation during the pandemic," he said. "For example, golf has seen a higher demand for product, mainly at the consumer level in regard to using points in reward/loyalty product. However, manufacturers could not keep up with product demand during COVID, so the effect has been a double-edged sword."

So, knowing that it might be a little more difficult to find the products that will meet the demand, let's take a look at some of the hottest items going when it comes to recreation and sporting goods incentives and rewards.

Golfing & Getting Around

For golfers, check out the Bushnell Golf Wingman GPS Speaker. It features a GPS Bluetooth speaker with premium audio, Bushnell BITE magnetic mount and remote trigger. It has golf and music modes, and includes the Bushnell golf app.

For those who are looking for new modes of travel, the Compass Electric Bike, available through Vivitar Special Markets, is the perfect commuting option. The water-resistant electric bike has three power assist modes, cushioned suspension with 12-inch pneumatic tires, and an adjustable seat. It also has headlight and brake light, and will fully charge in four hours and lasts 15 miles on a single charge.

Or, carve it up with the Tony Hawk Cruiser, available through Vivitar Special Markets. Featuring auto-start technology, this 27-inch cruiser can reach speeds of 12.5 miles per hour and can travel up to five miles per charge. Weighing in at a mere 8.4 pounds and featuring an easy carry handle integrated into the deck, the Tony Hawk Cruiser is the pinnacle of portability and convenience.