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October 2014

IRF Fall 2014 Pulse Study Indicates Positive Trends

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According to the Fall 2014 Pulse Study from the Incentive Research Foundation, trends continue to stabilize compared with previous survey periods, with overall trends nearing those reported in 2008. Based on a survey completed by nearly 300 incentive providers, suppliers to the industry and corporate incentive travel buyers, data for the Pulse study was collected from July 21 through Aug. 6, 2014.

Respondents continue to anticipate the impact of the economy to have a "positive" effect on their ability to plan and implement merchandise non-cash incentive programs, potentially indicating a positive trend in the coming year.

In addition, respondents reported the merchandise types that are most commonly used within reward and recognition programs. The top types of merchandise and gift cards include: electronics (43 percent), open card (40 percent), jewelry/watches (34 percent), housewares (31 percent), clothing/apparel (31 percent), golf items (30 percent) and luggage (28 percent).

A majority of respondents (74 percent) said that they use a points-based system for their merchandise non-cash incentive programs. Compared with May 2014, slightly fewer respondents indicate the use of a "points based system" for non-cash incentive programs. Third-party respondents are much more likely to use a points-based system than corporate and supplier respondents.

Only 5 percent of respondents said they expect that budgets for non-cash incentives will decrease in the coming year. About half (49 percent) said budgets for non-cash incentives will remain unchanged, and 46 percent said budgets for non-cash incentives will increase by some degree in the coming year.

When it comes to general perceptions of the coming year, a majority of respondents (69 percent) said they perceive the economy to be either slightly or extremely positive.

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