Merchandise & Gift Card Incentives

Merchandise Gift Card Incentives

2022 promises growth opportunities. Are you ready?

If you’re like most incentive program managers, you felt the pain of the pandemic. According to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), “there was a very large increase in merchandise and gift card program cancellations in 2021. The percentage of cancellations rose from 29% in 2020 to 44% in 2021. The percentage cancelling programs in Europe this past year was even higher than North America, with 66% of Europeans reporting cancelled programs.”

Now, in 2022, incentive programs are back—in a big way. The IRF reports that companies they surveyed plan to spend more per person on non-cash rewards. Last year, the reported average was $764; this year it has increased to $806. Furthermore, 51% plan to spend more than $250 per person, up from 41% last year.

That’s why marketers like you need the most desirable, memorable and behavior-changing incentives to attract consumers and sales channel teams. It’s a highly competitive environment, so it’s more critical than ever to get more bang for your buck.

Gift Card Incentives

Gift cards are perennially popular, and for good reason: people can splurge a little on themselves. For your incentive program, gift cards provide plenty of options to delight and engage your recipients. Need immediate gratification to appease dissatisfied customers? Let your customer service team issue egift cards on the spot via email or text. Need to engage your sales channel? A plastic travel gift card—think airfare, cruises or resorts—is an enticing stretch goal that can be presented in person with heartfelt congratulations.

Merchandise Catalog Incentives

Merchandise is an important component of any rewards strategy, and a custom curated catalog ensures you offer choices that appeal to your incentive program participants. And although incentive budgets are up overall, spending on merchandise is basically holding steady. The IRF reports that “the average value of a merchandise reward is $152. This is easily within the range for the last three waves … [with] the exact same average amount of $160.” Build your catalog with plenty of aspirational yet achievable rewards, such as electronics, sports equipment and jewelry.

Prepaid Card Incentives

Merchandise Gift Card Incentives

Visa® and Mastercard® Prepaid Cards offer the most spending flexibility because they can be redeemed everywhere these networks’ debit cards are accepted. That’s why people are always delighted to receive a prepaid card—it offers the ultimate in spending choice.

Plus, you can opt for plastic cards or virtual versions, depending upon your desired delivery speed. Virtual Visa and Mastercard Prepaid Cards can be delivered almost instantly via email or text—what a great way to give your customers and channel partners instant gratification.

The Power of Reward Choice

It’s easy enough to say that gift card incentives, merchandise options and prepaid cards are all great reward options—but how do you decide what to offer? To build a really successful program, consider what your target market would prefer. People have different reward preferences, and you can always offer options. Give a market research respondent their choice of three different $5 gift card brands. Or offer your sales channel products at a wide array of “price” points.

Sophisticated Technology and Relevant Rewards

Merchandise Gift Card Incentives

With the data available today, incentive programs are getting smarter. You can offer custom curated catalogs to specific groups, add special promotions to encourage engagement, and leverage personalization to create a highly relevant reward experience. The best rewards provider can offer you all of this—and more.

With incentive programs on the rise, now is the time to make sure your reward offerings are the latest and greatest. Providing your participants with choice of both reward type and reward delivery is more important than ever. Plus, to stay ahead of your competition, you need the right mix of rewards.

And even if your incentive budget is up, you still need to get more bang for your buck to achieve your goals. That’s why you should partner with one provider for all of your gift card incentives, merchandise, prepaid cards and more—you’ll get better pricing and enhanced efficiency. The icing on the cake is a provider with a global reach!

Talk to an incentives expert from Online Rewards to learn how we can help optimize your rewards strategy. Start a conversation below now.



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Online Rewards is a highly versatile and powerful incentive and loyalty marketing solutions provider.  Since its formation in 2002, Online Rewards has designed, developed, and supported global rewards and incentives programs across a variety of industries and applications.

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