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Feature Story

November 2019

IRF Sees Rosy Industry Outlook in 2020

Recent Inspiration for Motivation Feature Stories

Preliminary Findings Released for 2019 Incentive Travel Industry Index - October 2019

Gartner: More U.S. Employees Intend to Stay Put - September 2019

IRF Study Shows High Rates of Incentive Program Changes to Comply With Regulations - August 2019

Research Looks at Gig, External Workers - July 2019

IRF Examines How Top-Performing Financial Services Handle Incentives & Rewards - June 2019

IRF Study Reveals Reward & Recognition Strategies of Top Tech Companies - May 2019

Big Box Retailers See Gift Card Growth - April 2019

Research Shows Loyalty Members Want More Redemption Opportunities - March 2019

IRF Announces 2019 Incentive Trends - February 2019

Randstad US Identifies Work Trends to Watch - January 2019

More Companies Gifting This Season - December 2018

Market Leaders Address Challenges to Corporate Gifts, Rewards & Recognition - November 2018

IRF Projects Increase in Data-Driven Decisions & Delivery of Personalized Rewards - October 2018

Hinda Asks: How Does Reward Delivery Affect the Reward Experience? - September 2018

IRF Study Reveals Difficulties for Program Owners - August 2018

IRF Listens to Voice of the Market - July 2018

IRF Study Looks at Corporate Program Owners of Incentive Programs - June 2018

Making the Most of Global Employee Recognition - May 2018

Report Shows Gen Z, Millennials Changing Loyalty - April 2018

Incentive Research Foundation Announces Top 10 Trends for 2018 - March 2018

Experiment Assesses People's Preference for Rewards - February 2018

Bill Keeps Tax Exclusion for Incentives - January 2018

IRF Examines Reward Presentation & Attraction - December 2017

Industry Pros Discuss Current, Future Challenges to Corporate Gift & Recognition Market - November 2017

The Incentive Research Foundation's "Industry Outlook for 2020: Merchandise, Gift Card and Event Gifting" reports high levels of economic net optimism during the Fall of 2019 and a positive outlook for 2020. The new study provides useful insights and benchmarks on non-cash reward types, average spend, and how incentive programs are being administered.

Key findings in the report include:
  • A Positive Outlook for 2020: Industry stakeholders have very strong expectations for 2020, with 85% reporting they expect their company to have strong financial performance.
  • High Economic Net Optimism for Incentive Programs: The Fall 2019 Net Optimism Index for incentive programs was 41%, consistent with Fall 2018 (43%) and up from Summer 2017 (22%).
  • Reporting and Analysis Are On the Rise: Corporate users conducting analysis on how programs change behavior increased to 44%, compared with 25% in 2019.
  • Average Merchandise Reward Value?$160: Logoed brand-name merchandise and electronics are the most common rewards with corporate respondents, while sunglasses and electronics are the most popular among third-party providers.
  • Online Retailer Gift Cards Outpace Coffee: Retailers that are exclusively online (e.g., Amazon) are 2019's most popular type of gift card (65%)—ahead of coffee (61%), 2018's top gift card choice.
  • Personalization & Engagement in Event Gifting: The marketplace experience has grown in popularity, with 58% of respondents reporting they use the marketplace as an engaging way to deliver event gifts.

The release of the IRF's "Industry Outlook for 2020: Merchandise, Gift Card and Event Gifting" was supported by IRF Research Advocacy Partner, Blackhawk Network. For more information, or to view the report, visit