by Jacilyn Bennett | October 30, 2017
Virtual rewards are now the No. 1 preferred incentive type in North America, according to the bi-annual GRIT CPR (Consumer Participation in Research) study. The study, which focused on market research respondent rewards in particular, had some interesting findings that could be applied to nearly any rewards program. For example, Boomers prefer virtual cards as the incentive of choice while Millennials and GenX are still holding out for cash rewards. 

Our new "Improving the Research Respondent Experience" white paper,, which is based on the GRIT CPR study, found that more than half of respondents to market research surveys participate in order to win rewards or prizes. That's a lot. And I expect that this percentage likely goes up in other consumer groups looking for incentives. This information alone should provide the impetus for creating an incentive strategy that resonates with target audiences. 

"When we analyzed this data with formal incentive programs in mind, it was clear that virtual cards stood out as the most practical option for organizations wishing to reward their target audiences -- whether it be market research companies rewarding respondents or brands rewarding loyal consumers," said Lenny Murphy, founder of market research leadership platform, Greenbook, and author the GRIT study.

We know that it is vital to understand our target audience when choosing an incentive program. It must resonate with them, while also giving us a practical way to deliver and track rewards. Our audience, no matter their age, location, income, or any other demographic marker, is demanding heightened personalization and better experiences. A new survey from the CMO Council, in partnership with SAP Hybris, found that consumers want service and experience wherever they go. This also applies to incentives. 

Ready to implement your own incentives strategy? Start by asking these questions to design a meaningful, results-driven program: 

• What are the top reward choices by various age groups and geographic regions and what constituents make up my target audience?
• Where is my audience interacting with my company and program -- mobile, online in-person, telephone, mail? The platform may better advise preferred reward type.
• What reward option provides ease of implementation and delivery to my audience? 
• Can I personalize my incentive program to provide that one-on-one experience that today's consumer demands? 

Our data showed that respondent satisfaction is directly correlated to the type of incentive provided. So while cash is the most-preferred reward globally, it presents logistical complications and isn't a practical option in most cases. And it makes sense that virtual cards are the number one selection in North America, where consumers are always on the go and always equipped with their smartphone.

Virtual cards are actually a good bet no matter the audience. Across all demographic cuts and comparisons by other variables in the study, virtual cards scored well. When broken down by age group, the Boomers picked it as a No. 1 choice, and, factoring out the impractical cash choice, virtual cards were the top choice almost across the board for every generation. 

Data like this clearly shows that all companies need to be thoughtful about their approach to incentives and tailor a program that fits their goals and their audiences. Taking a strategic approach like this can help boost engagement and, ultimately, business outcomes. 

The "Improving the Research Respondent Experience" white paper is based on the GRIT CPR study, which was conducted in 14 countries and 8 languages among 6,750 consumers via online, telephone, and mobile-only surveys. 

Jacilyn Bennett is vice president of sales for Virtual Incentives and has more than 15 years of experience in the technology and marketing-based industries, with a strong focus on loyalty, incentive and recognition program sales. She brings a consultative approach to the sales process, and works hard to meet the specific needs of each client. Prior to joining the Virtual Incentives team, Bennett spent more than a decade in leadership roles as a top sales performer in the business-to-business rewards and incentives space. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Troy University and is based in the Atlanta, GA area.