by Lisa A. Grimaldi | October 22, 2019

How will merchandise-rewards budgets change in 2020? A third of the respondents to Incentive's Merchandise IQ 2019, an exclusive study of 141 incentive professionals conducted this summer, said their budgets will increase, while 63 percent said their budgets will stay the same. More than half (61 percent) of the sample will have less than $25,000 to spend on rewards next year, while 6 percent will have $1 million or more to play with.

Brand-name goods matter, according to more than 75 percent. And online purchasing is the preferred way to buy rewards, said 57 percent, followed by promotional-product/ad-specialty distributors (47 percent). Surprisingly, in this era of online shopping, more than a third of respondents buy from a print catalog.

Price is the top factor influencing merchandise selection, followed by perceived value and popular trends.

Salespeople and consumers/customers are the main audiences targeted for awards by respondents, while the top goals for rewards are to recognize employees, thank employees and to build morale/job satisfaction, followed by building customer loyalty and increasing sales.

Nineteen percent of respondents indicated they will replace incentive travel  programs with merchandise rewards in 2020. The main reasons cited were budget constraints (44 percent), and safety and security concerns (30 percent).

Read more about this at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com.