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by Leo Jakobson | January 15, 2013
    
If there is one word that best summarizes Incentive's 2013 "Merchandise IQ Survey" in comparison to the 2012 edition, it is "continuity." This year, very few responses differed by more than a couple of percentage points from those in 2012.

That said, many of those trends are good news. Once again, the number of respondents whose program budgets have increased (31.8 percent) was slightly more than twice the number who cut their budgets (15.7 percent). Slightly fewer programs (4.5 percent) remained unchanged although, in both cases, that accounted for slightly more than half of the responses. And the number of respondents who recognized the importance of brand-name awards grew, with roughly 31 percent calling them "very important" in 2013, compared with about 21 percent last year.

The objectives of incentive programs using merchandise awards seemed to focus on employees - specifically recognition, morale, and teamwork - a bit more in 2013 than in 2012. The top three motivating factors behind gift merchandise were "employee recognition," "increase sales," and "build morale/job satisfaction," the latter jumping to third place from fifth.

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