St. Louis – July 6 - After one of the most difficult economic periods in history, business executives are easing their caution regarding the use of merchandise incentives as organizations renew their focus on sales activity and customer retention according to the most recent Corporate Incentive Trends Survey jointly conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation
(IRF) and Corporate Meetings & Incentives (CMI).
IRF President Melissa Van Dyke explained that the recent survey focused on merchandise incentive budgets, the types of behaviors rewarded and the range of merchandise included. For purposes of the survey, merchandise is defined as material awards that are not travel-related, including gift cards and logoed apparel items.
“Perhaps one of the most significant finding is that apparel items (69 percent) and gift cards (66 percent) are emerging as highly-used rewards in our post-recession economy with merchandise incentive programs strongly reflecting national trends toward quality and sustainability,” Van Dyke commented.
According to the survey, 2011 appears to be the inflection point where merchandise incentive budgets have stopped declining and are moving toward a positive recovery for the industry, signaling good news from both providers of merchandise programs and their targeted participants. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents reported their 2010 sales revenues either increased or remained unchanged, 87 percent maintained their programs moving into 2011 and 92 percent are expected to sustain programs in 2012. Furthermore, respondents anticipating budgets to remain at the same level increases from 38 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012.
Of those who expect 2012 programs to remain intact, only 2 percent anticipate a moderate budget decline and only 9 percent expect small budget changes. In all, only 10 percent of respondents reported that they were forced to cancel programs in 2011 and only 6 percent anticipate program cancelations in 2012.
“In light of the profound economic impact of the recession and negative media reports about incentive excesses, we found a renewed interest in more practical items that seems to reflect the post-recessionary mindset away from luxury and back toward everyday usefulness,” Van Dyke concluded.