Premium Incentive Products Magazine - Products and Ideas That Inspire Performance


Premium Incentive Products Magazine - Products and Ideas That Inspire Performance

Something Fun for Everyone

What's New in Rec & Sporting Goods Incentives?

Last year, the Incentive Research Foundation conducted an in-depth study that examined people's preferences in how they received rewards, as well as which rewards they liked best. And while you might think there were some predictable demographic trends, what the study seemed to turn up was this: People vary. And everyone is unique.

The things that motivate us the most as individuals motivate us the most because they suit us. As individuals. And it seems that there's no other category that highlights this as starkly as the recreation and sporting goods market.

Just about everyone has a favorite pastime or two, or three, that fall into this category. But take a group of 10 people, and you most likely will find 10 unique ways of engaging with the world through recreation and sports. One person might love to play golf and enjoys tailgating. Another might be an avid hiker and birdwatcher. And another might love to play a game of hoops with the kids before taking off for a bike ride along a local trail.

One of the reasons why rec and sporting goods maintain continuous appeal as rewards and incentives is just this: There really is something for everyone.

And what's interesting is, this has become more true over time. Especially when you consider athletic gear, the target audience has expanded vastly in the past decade or two.

"It used to be, the target market was limited to much younger people," said Dennis Borst, president and COO of Patriot Marketing Group. "But in the 21st century, everyone, even your grandma, has a pair of athletic shoes.

"What makes it so appealing," he added, "is that is has a broad base appeal to all generations, young and old. …If you want exercise gear, if you want fan gear—there's something there for everybody."

"When you're talking outdoors, it's all about fun!" said Warren Weaver, director of national sales, Zane's Inc. "In today's increasingly hectic lifestyle, the ability to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors is a huge benefit that people really crave. Making sports and recreation part of your assortment allows your customers and employees the ability to get that vehicle to transport them out of the daily grind and into the world of fun."

"Any award that promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages award winners to get outside and unwind is a powerful motivator," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager, Top Brands Inc. "The physical benefits associated with sporting goods is already well known, but the emotional and mental boosts associated with spending time outdoors cannot be overlooked. Giving award winners products that enable them to get outside, unplug and destress is very enticing."

What's more, you're providing gear, whether entry-level or a step up, that people often won't spend money on until they have to. Whether it's golf clubs or camping gear, backpacks for hiking or a brand-new cooler to take to the game, many people aspire to have something better than what they've got.

Many items in this part of the market can be expensive, which makes them a great fit for inspiring performance. "On the loyalty and incentive side," said Scott Kooken, president, Links Unlimited, "if you have a possibility of not using your own money to get one of these products, it's a big motivation. It's something you're going to use, especially if you're an avid fan. Camping, golf, tennis—none of those sports or recreational activities are cheap. The aspirational side is a good fit for any type of incentive or loyalty program."

Hot and Cold

So, what's currently a hot item? Something cold.

"One of the hottest categories in sporting goods right now are high-end, rotomolded coolers," Glamann said, "What really started out as a niche product for the serious outdoor enthusiasts has exploded in popularity, and you are now seeing these coolers everywhere, from backyard barbecues to tailgating parties."

Top Brands, he said, recently partnered with KYSEK to bring its Ultimate Ice Chest to the incentive market, and the company is seeing a lot of demand.

Kooken agreed, adding that insulated steel water bottles are also a growing category. "You see new companies jumping in and existing companies adding those," he said. "…It's almost a fashion statement. If you look at S'well, they have 100 different colors, so you pick the bottle that you want."

The idea behind S'well, he said, was a bit different, because the product was developed with the idea that you'd no longer buy bottled water. "That idea was more for the environment," Kooken said, "but the product competes."

"Those plastic mold injection coolers keep ice cold for five to seven days," he added. While they were traditionally made for campers who needed to keep things cold for around a week, he said, "… now you see it in people's back yards for a party. Fishermen find them useful, too."

You can blaze a trail to anywhere and take along some cold food and drinks with a Coleman® 55-Quart Rugged 55 A/T Wheeled Cooler. This all-terrain cooler can go as far off the beaten path as you can with its telescoping handle and 8-inch oversized, off-road wheels that give you 75 percent more ground clearance than a Coleman® cooler with 6-inch wheels. For the rare occasions when the wheels won't cut it, the rugged EZ-Lift™ swing handles make it easy to carry your cooler in the roughest of conditions. Large enough to hold 84 cans, you'll have plenty of space for refreshments for a whole group of people, and they'll stay cold for up to five days. Once you arrive, the Have-A-Seat™ lid will ensure you always have a place to sit and relax. And the cup holders molded into the lid will keep your cold drink close while you enjoy the day. After you've trekked your way back, the leak-resistant drain makes it easy to empty any excess water, so you're ready for your next off-road adventure.

Camping items are also trending right now, as more people discover the great outdoors. "Camping-related products also continue to redeem at a high rate in online incentive programs," Glamann said. "We have had a lot of success creating camping packages that give an award winner almost everything they need to enjoy a weekend outdoors with family and friends."

Whether out for a day hike or for an overnight camping trip, a good backpack will come in handy. Outfitted with serious hardware and versatile storage options, the Oakley Kitchen Sink Backpack, available through Links Unlimited, is a complete package with heavy-duty appeal. Whether taking a day trip or extended excursion, specialized pockets inside and out organize items, while abrasion-resistant fabric keeps them safe, including shoes and most 17-inch laptops. Equipped with a hard media-player compartment and reinforced clip and zip closures, the Kitchen Sink Backpack blends toughness, style and diverse function ideal for the unpredictable day.

Available through Zanes, the cabin-style Eureka Jade Canyon is a four-person tent that provides vertical walls for maximum interior space, wall-sized windows for maximum ventilation and the added amenities of the Elluminate system and the E! Media Center only from Eureka. The steel and aluminum frame combination provides ultimate durability and the large opening makes for an easy in and out. The bathtub wrap-up floor minimizes ground-level seams and there's even an exclusive Eureka power port that allows you to bring an outdoor-grade electrical power cord into the tent.

For campers who love the great outdoors, but wish it didn't bite so much, Zanes offers the Thermacell Camp Lantern and Insect Repeller. This camp lantern effectively repels mosquitoes, black flies and other biting insects by creating a 15-by-15-foot zone of protection for bug-free comfort. Its bright 300-lumen light runs for 50 hours on its highest setting and makes it a great addition to the serious camper's gear. Ideal for use while you are camping, hunting and fishing. The lantern and its components have been evaluated by the EPA for safety as well as its effectiveness.

"According to the 2017 North American Camping Report, millennials now make up 38 percent of the 75 million active camper households in the United States, and more than 1 million new households have started camping since 2014," Glamann said. "With more people spending time outdoors every year, sporting goods and recreational equipment will help to fulfill that need. Families that take part in outdoor activities together pass that enthusiasm down to their children, helping to grow the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts."

From Entry Level to Leveling Up

Speaking of growing enthusiasts, you should keep in mind that the level of experience among your participants in any given sport or activity could vary widely. Offering ways for newcomers to get started is important, as is providing ways for the more experienced to "level up."

There are a ton of recreational activities that appeal to people of all ages and skill levels. Fishing, bicycling and camping are three categories that have a really
wide-reaching audience.

"There are a ton of recreational activities that appeal to people of all ages and skill levels," Glamann said. "Fishing, bicycling and camping are three categories we see that have a really wide-reaching audience. Brands like Eagle Claw offer fishing kits perfect for the beginner, as well as sophisticated rod and reel combos for the experienced angler."

Whether for beginners or experienced players, said Chris Cavallari, global business director, Zero Friction, kits like this, which combine various items one needs for a favorite sport or pastime, are becoming more popular. "You create a greater value when you combine different things," he said. "It's not something you can find in the store. For example, for golfers, we provide balls, tees and gloves together as a kit. And those have been doing really well."

At the same time, Kooken added, no recreational activity or sport is at a standstill. Manufacturers are continually introducing something new, providing continual sources of new inspiration for participants who want to upgrade.

In golf, for example, "… unless you really have some disposable income, you're not updating your clothes, your clubs, your bag and your shoes every year," Kooken said. "If you have the opportunity to upgrade, most people take that."

One way to upgrade, Cavallari said, is to jump on the new trend that incorporates analytics into your game. "There are watches that track your stats and a golf glove that'll track your swing," he said. "It has a great look and tracks your yardage, all your shots, how many times you were out of bounds and so on."

Technology, he said, is a big trend. As an example, Wilson has developed a connected football and basketball. Tools like this help people hone in on what they're doing right and wrong, enabling them to improve their game. "If you can identify specifically what it is you're not doing well and work on that," Cavallari said, "it'll make it more enjoyable in the long run."

Cycling is a great example of a sport and pastime that provides an easy entry for those just getting started, as well as many, many ways to upgrade for those who want to get more serious.

Cycling is a great example of a sport and pastime that provides an easy entry for those just getting started, as well as many, many ways to upgrade for those who want to get more serious.

For those who just want a simple, easy and fun cruise, the Schwinn Costing & Women's Perla 26-inch 7-Speed Classic Cruiser Bicycle, from Epic International, is a great option. These are classic cruisers with hand brakes, a spring seat for comfort and an upright riding position. The look is completed with coordinating fenders. The steel frame and fork construction ensures durability, while alloy linear pull brakes offer smooth stopping power. This bike features 26-inch cruiser whitewall tires with alloy rims, full fenders and a Schwinn® 7-speed rear derailleur with twist shifters. Wide cruiser handlebars and a Schwinn® wide cruiser seat with springs offer a comfortable ride. The Perla features a rear carrier for added convenience.

For those who want to step up their riding skills, there are many ways to roll. Road bikes, hybrid bikes and mountain bikes are all options for those who want to get a little more serious about their cycling.

For mountain bikers, the Titan Alpha 24, available through Bike USA, is a 24-speed full-suspension mountain bike—the perfect choice for ATB enthusiasts. It comes equipped with many upscaled components, including a 21.5-inch Alloy frame, Hualaifu suspension fork, double wall alloy rims and hubs, quick release stem and seat post, Shimano derailleur and Shimano alloy shifter set, and disc brakes.

For those who have everything they need, providing a new look can be inspiring, and there are plenty of options in this area, as well.

"The popularity of outdoor gear that favors a more tactical design and finish like backpacks and sling packs from Red Rock Outdoor Gear has surged in recent years," Glamann said. "These sporting bags have a variety of sizes and configurations and have a rugged 'tacti-cool' look that sets them apart from the crowd."

Another thing to keep in mind is that, well, gear wears out. People who love to hike will need new hiking boots. People who love to golf will need new tees, balls and gloves.

"There's a lot of replenishment," Cavallari said. And because golf gloves aren't terribly pricey items, many award recipients can eliminate painful decisions and get one of everything.

For example, he said, color is a big trend. There's plenty of white golf gloves. "What we have is in six colors, and we can put together a colorful kit of gloves, giving people something different and exciting."

For those who are looking to replace their gloves or just get a better pair than they had before, Zero Friction has partnered with Johnny Miller to create the revolutionary Motion-Fit glove. This glove offers the same universal fit technology along with a compression fit that molds to your hand for a guaranteed fit. The glove is made from a combination of Cabretta leather and spandex, which stretches and compresses to each hand for a taut fit, eliminating the friction caused from a loose or stretched glove, allowing for a greater feel, more comfort and better shot accuracy.

Get Fit

Some folks don't aspire to get out onto the trail for an adventure or to up their golf game. All they want is some exercise, and the incentive market has plenty of options for everyone here, too.

With the Nautilus Bowflex Max Trainer® M5, available through Rymax, you can save time with the breakthrough 14-minute Max Interval workout, or choose from nine other pre-programmed workouts for longer sessions. Either way, you'll get a great cardio workout with an ultra-smooth, low-impact motion, and burn up to 2.5 times more calories. The M5 has: computer-controlled resistance, Bluetooth smart technology, premium grips, backlit display, target-zone monitoring and a compact design that fits almost any space.

For those who prefer to get their game on to get fit, Silverback's NXT 50-inch Portable Basketball System, available through Incentive Concepts, combines performance features with great value. The stabili-frame steel frame substructure offers unmatched stability, while the infinity edge wrap-around backboard edge design ensures ultimate playability. The NXT's ergomove wheelbarrow lift and roll design conquers rough terrain, making a game of hoops possible just about anywhere.

And when you're all done working out, the Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Foam Roller available through Rymax is designed to work deep layers of tissue while withstanding repeated use. Its unique wave-like texture and firm hollow core structure stimulates blood flow to target and soothe your aches faster.

Just for Fun

Of course, there's also the whole other side of the market, designed for those who love to take part in their favorite sports and pastimes from the sidelines.

"This time of year, fan gear for the colleges of course is huge," Borst said. "And now that football will be starting we'll see a lot of redemptions there. There's a lot of great fan gear at Champs."

For the ultimate football fan, Wilson offers the Super Bowl 52 Football. Since the first Super Bowl, the cities have switched and the contenders have changed, but one thing has not. The Wilson Football. It's the only football found on the field at each Super Bowl. The night the AFC and NFC Champions are crowned, Wilson's veteran team of skilled craftsmen and women begin to make Wilson Super Bowl footballs by hand. As fans across the world gear up for the Super Bowl, bound for big things, Wilson Football is honored to participate in the latest of a longstanding tradition of milestones, Super Bowl LII.

And, for those who just want something fun to do on the patio or in the yard, there are even more options. From Incentive Concepts, the Triumph Sports Triumph Tumble is a large-scale version of the classic tabletop game of block stacking and stack crashing. It features 54 giant wood blocks to make up a tower 27 inches tall and 9 inches square. The blocks are made of all natural wood, and it can be carried in the convenient storage bag.

Use Your Knowledge

Now that you know what a wealth of fun sporting and fit gear is out there, how do you put it all together?

"Rec and sporting goods are a great fit for any health and wellness initiative," Glamann said. "Having a product assortment that ties in with the push to adopt a healthy lifestyle really helps to reinforce the goals of the program.

"We also have had a lot of success with outdoor packages in years-of-service programs. With packages like our Wenzel camping bundles, we have the flexibility to hit different price points for a variety of milestones."

"Obviously, wellness makes a ton of sense for sports and recreation gear, but we also see great success in years of service and safety, as these items are feel-good and typically long-lasting," Weaver said. "They provide an aspirational, getaway token for those recipients."

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