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by Leo Jakobson | February 14, 2012
Consumer and corporate incentive provider Parago today announced an acquisition that will take the company into the global employee and channel program market.

The primary goal of Lewisville, TX-based Parago’s purchase of Intuitive Group International, a European provider of international corporate incentive programs, is to “to grow channel and employee globally,” says Juli Spottiswood, Parago’s president and CEO.

“Parago is a 13-year-old company that has really excelled in the consumer incentive space in the United States,” Spottiswood says. “We want to continue to grow that part of our business but expand and diversify into different areas. The most natural place for us to look was in channel and employee incentives, because the logic is still the same: do something, get something. It’s all reward-based incentives, and that’s our bailiwick. We started to do that here in the U.S., but a lot of programs can be global in nature, and we were hamstrung with an offering that could only allow us to penetrate programs that were U.S.-based. We knew we needed a global solution.”

Going forward, the Intuitive Group’s technology platform will be Parago’s sole platform for channel and employee incentive programs, Spottiswood says. It will be managed by the Reading, England, office that was Intuitive Group’s headquarters, and sold in this country by Parago’s sales force, she adds. “They’re going to be selling consumer, channel, and employee now,” Spottiswood notes of her staff. “It’s a heavy focus, it’s just as important as selling consumer programs. We’ll be talking about all three in every prospect situation.”

While Parago had mostly focused on cash and cash-equivalent rewards like checks, electronic checks, and Visa prepaid cards, the expansion of its focus on the employee and channel incentive programs means that the company will make a substantial foray into merchandise rewards, Spottiswood says. “Its still a heavily merchandise-centric business,” she says. “We actually have the ability to do merchandise awards in 130 countries, through the Intuitive Group platform. Most of the programs work as points program, with a reward catalog. Sometimes, it can be merchandise and a prepaid card. Very rarely is it just a prepaid card, but that’s an option.”

Parago also plans to expand its consumer incentive offerings outside the United States, although that will take a temporary backseat to expanding its global employee and channel incentive programs to U.S. corporations. “We want to start tackling all of these things in the first 12 months,” Spottiswood says. “It’s just that it’s one thing to have an offering and be able to go sell it. It’s another to have to actually evangelize. And that’s what would have to happen to take cash-back consumer incentives into another country. It’s just not widely used in other countries. It’s not like we’d be going in to win market share, we’d be trying to create a market. And that’s a little harder.”