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Recap: Merchandise Trends Survey

According to joint research between Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine and the Incentive Research Foundation, merchandise incentives are on the rise. The Merchandise Trends Survey was conducted in spring 2011 in order to identify the latest trends in the corporate incentive market. A total of 160 respondents who plan incentive programs or purchase incentive gifts responded to the survey. Comparing the results from this year with last year, it’s clear to see that more companies are returning to merchandise as a way to reward salespeople and retain customers and employees.

Here’s a simplified breakdown of some of the more interesting statistics and findings from the survey:

  • In 2011, 11% of companies canceled its merchandise incentive programs. In 2012, only 6% plan to cancel.
  • The top reasons why 2011 programs were canceled:
    • One: Pressure from top executives in the company
    • Two: Market pressure
    • Three: Concerns about media scrutiny
  • 46% of respondents’ 2012 incentive merchandise budgets will stay the same as 2011 (+/-5%), but 27% plan on spending slightly more in 2012 (6% to 10%)
  • Merchandise is purchased for the following programs:
    • Sales incentives: 72%
    • Customer gifts: 47%
    • Nonsales incentives: 33%
    • Dealer/distributor incentives: 30%
    • Anniversary gifts: 27%
    • Consumer incentives: 25%
    • Safety incentives: 19%
    • Wellness incentives: 15%
    • Other: 6%
  • 27% of respondents buy pillow gifts (interesting and odd)
  • These are the types of merchandise that are purchased for incentive programs:
    • Apparel/wearables: 69%
    • Gift cards: 67%
    • Awards/plaques/trophies: 58%
    • Office accessories: 54%
    • Electronics: 53%
    • Golf products: 53%
    • Food: 44%
    • Giftware/home accessories: 43%
    • Luggage: 40%
    • Jewelry/watches: 32%
  • 52% of respondents make an effort to purchase “green” gifts
  • 61% of respondents make an effort to purchase locally made items
  • In 2011, a majority (24%) of respondents spent between $50 and $99 per gift. In a close second, 23% spent between $100 and $249 per gift.
  • 87% of respondents buy branded merchandise
  • 12% of respondents incorporate gaming into their online programs

There you have it! Which statistic surprised you the most? Given these findings, what do you predict for the industry in 2012?


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