Something For (and From) Everybody
To help keep companies' most valuable commodity—a valuable employee—an emotionally engaging merchandise reward program must
offer a wide variety of sophisticated and luxurious reward options, catering to the whims and desires of all employees, regardless
of demographics. "The great thing we offer reps is the ability to redeem points for a lot of different choices, such as lifestyle
and electronics rewards. Because the pharma sales reps are largely a late 20s-30s demographic, they particularly like concert
tickets and sporting goods," Durrett says.
"It's important to offer a wide variety of choices because you want to ensure they don't get bored," says BI's Sherra Buckley,
the company's pharmaceutical/healthcare design director.
MotivAction's SuperStore can expand and contract based on the demographics of the audience—to the tune of more than three
million items. "In 2004, over 20,000 unique items were ordered collectively by our incentive program participants," says North.
SuperStore can offer both traditional and non-traditional incentive awards, including books, music, movies, and other lower
price point items, which North says are popular and motivational with many audiences.
Amorde has seen how merchandise motivation tools can become a family affair when recipients take home a catalog and enlist
the support and feedback of family members. "If the kids want an iPod and the wife wants jewelry," she says, "employees are
even more motivated to rack up those reward points."
Historically, catalog programs only included merchandise; today, many also offer individual travel rewards and gift cards
and certificates from many of today's most popular retailers. Marriott offers travel certificates. Utix offers cards for ski,
golf, and spa treatments. And, retailers such as Target, Macy's, and Blockbuster offer their own gift cards. "People want
choice and this is an easy way for an on-the-spot award," explains Steve Apesos, executive vice president of new business
development for Utix in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Companies need to stay on top of trends to keep their reps excited about incentives. According to Louise Anderson, president
and CEO of the Hastings, Minnesota-based Anderson Performance Group, thin gadgets are in. "With electronics, the thinner the
better," she says. Besides electronics, her company's hot list for pharma sales reps includes quality jewelry and gourmet
kitchen items. "Travel, which fell off in 2000 and 2001, is back," she says, "and has, in fact, doubled." (See "Merchandise
"Everyone is motivated by different things and they like a variety of options to choose from," explains Godar. Offering one
pharma client a catalog with up to 2,000 "must-have" items is one way to do this. Godar says today's most popular pharma rewards
are anything digital, especially iPods, digital cameras and camcorders. Luxury spa kits and premium meats are also in demand.
He says: "It seems people are most attracted to products they might feel guilty buying themselves, yet when they have points
to redeem, they feel just fine about splurging."
Beyond Sales Results
Maritz's Godar used a merchandise reward program for a global pharma company for several years. "Before this program, management
wasn't certain if they were addressing and motivating all their employees," she says, "or only their top performers." So the
company conducted internal research to identify best practices of its top performers, which were communicated to management.
That formed the basis for a reward program for which everyone was eligible. "The entire sales force competed against each
other," he explains, "so each individual could improve his or her own performance and be rewarded [accordingly]."