Awards That Keep on Giving
n these difficult economic times, when most people need to cut back on their spending due to the reduction in income, job instability and shrinkage in their investment portfolios, there is a dramatic shift occurring in consumer psychology. As reported by the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 4, 2008, there is a significant decline in the purchases of luxury goods accompanied by a trend toward reverse psychology in that people don't feel it's necessary to "keep up with the Joneses."
People are leaning toward frugality, because they do not feel the positive social reinforcement that showy behavior provided when economic times were better. They also can't justify the splurge, so a reverse snobbery is occurring. People still want to buy, but we as marketers need to help them justify it with items that can save them some money and are practical, such as gourmet coffee makers that still give them the quality java experience, but without the big dollars at retail. People prefer "green" products that give back to the environment because it's the right thing to do and it makes them feel more socially responsible. These behaviors are consistent with the four "psychological processes" by which tangible awards motivate better than cash, as defined by Scott Jeffrey, Ph.D. in his 2003 whitepaper (available from the Incentive Research Foundation, www.theirf.org), but to use these principles effectively, our motivation strategy must be changed.
So what can we do to change our motivation strategy to best take advantage of these trends? We don't have to stop offering luxuries—in their hearts, people still want to redeem for these—but we should consider giving items with special value and improve the way we communicate these benefits. We should offer awards with value that continues after the initial purchase (or award redemption), or more simply stated: "awards that keep on giving." There are several ways to accomplish this.
At the high end, we should still promote dramatic luxury, such as home theaters. These have huge appeal and "trophy value." But consistent with people slowing down their purchases, they are less likely to redeem for these unless we position them differently. We need to communicate not just the joy the recipient will get by seeing sports, movies and favorite TV shows in hi-definition video, with surround sound, but also that these home theaters can actually save them money on an ongoing basis.
Take for example a Sony or Samsung home theater that sells for $5,000 (in award point value). At first, this sounds like a lot, but consider that taking a family of four to the movies costs an average of $70, including four tickets at $10, concession snacks worth $20 and a transportation cost of $10—and this doesn't include dinner out, which can add another $20 per person, or a total evening expenditure of $150. If you divide the $5,000 cost by $150, it means that the home theater will pay for itself in just 33 evenings, or less than one year of watching a weekend movie! (Sure, you can factor in the cost of the cable TV bill, but this needs to be paid regardless.)
If the awards budget isn't high enough to award a complete home theater, then giving just one component such as a Blu-Ray Disc player might be just the ticket.
Also, consider housewares items that people wouldn't normally go out and buy, such as an Oster Mini-Convection Oven, cappuccino maker or popcorn machine. These allow the recipients to create restaurant-quality experiences at home.
Home theaters and housewares awards are available from Harco Incentive Solutions and other authorized premium incentive distributors. For information, contact Ruth Owens at (201) 894-8941 x124 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a more attainable, yet unusual award, consider the new MagicJack, which is an amazing innovation voted PC Magazine's "Editor's Choice" in 2008. MagicJack is a low-cost USB device that provides free local and long-distance calling to the United States and Canada, thus eliminating the monthly phone bill and saving $700 per year on average.
The MagicJack plugs into a PC or Mac desktop or laptop with a high-speed connection and any standard telephone or headset/mica and is up and running in one minute. Aside from free calling, users also receive a free local telephone number, voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and much more. It is great for home, a home office, college, travel, a primary or second line—and it works overseas to call the United States or Canada as well.
MagicJack is ideal to include in incentive catalog programs and also for trade show premiums, sales rewards, employee and customer gifts, travel gifts and corporate cost-savings initiatives. It was invented by telecom pioneer Dan Borislow and has been featured in dozens of media outlets. More than 1.5 million units have been sold in 2008 at the retail price of $39.95, and each additional year of service is only $19.95. MagicJack is available in the premium incentive channel on a direct basis from Andrew J. Borislow at (215) 628-2300 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Gift Card Awards
A gift card that fits the value strategy is available from Restaurant.com. This $25 card is redeemable from the recipient's choice of more than 8,500 local restaurants nationwide, as well a number of online merchants. The card costs $10 or even less for various types of incentive programs, so instead of giving one gift card from a traditional restaurant, with Restaurant.com, you can afford to give one this month, one next month and even one the following month.
The cards are easy to use; the recipient simply visits www.restaurant.com, enters their certificate number, searches by cuisine or ZIP code and then prints out a certificate to take in to the restaurant of their choice. The cards usually have a few minor conditions, such as only being valid midweek and for purchases of $35 or more, but $25 off of a $35 dinner is a huge savings! There are a number of ways the cards can be delivered, such as in a digital e-mail format as well as plastic. For more information, contact Larry Nichter at (973) 486-0865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another value option is giving the recipient a choice from more than 30 "of the month" clubs from Amazing Clubs. These clubs provide a sampling of the specified products to experience each month, such as wines, chocolates, flowers, cigars, beer and many more. If bought at a restaurant, these products would cost at least twice as much they do from Amazing Cubs, and they are delivered right to the recipient's door in an attractive gift box. For more information, contact Corey Newhouse at (203) 517-4555 x105 or email@example.com.
The Best Choice?
Perhaps the best choice is giving a bundled package of everything above! The recipient can go out to dinner at a local restaurant that has a BYOB policy, enjoy a wine-of-the-month club selection and pay using a Restaurant.com certificate. At home, they can enjoy a dessert-of-the-month club selection, along with a cappuccino. Then they can make some popcorn and watch an exciting movie on their big-screen, hi-definition, surround-sound home theater. If still hungry, they can convect a quick late-night snack and after this lovely evening, enjoy a chocolate of the month, and dream sweetly about all of their luxurious, but value-conscious awards. Reverse snobs unite!