Wired for Motivation
Electronics Incentives to Get the Motivation Gears Turning
It is hard to imagine a world without consumer electronics. For some people, even a day without their assorted electronica—from smartphones and GPS devices to televisions, tablets, cameras and more—is unfathomable. And, in fact, it is an industry that continues to grow, and whose products continue to introduce new innovations, at a rapid clip.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the industry will surpass $200 billion in overall revenues in the United States for the first time this year, with technology and innovation playing a vital role.
"Technologies that may have seemed cutting-edge in the past are now an integral part of consumers' everyday lives," said Steve Koenig, CEA's director of industry analysis. And the cutting-edge products just keep coming.
There's a reason your employees, customers, sales reps and partners are so motivated by these products. There is always a new development coming over the horizon, and many people want the latest and greatest right now. When you deliver it to them, you're powering their everyday life while powering up your incentive or reward program.
"Consumer electronics continue to have a broad appeal, as potential recipients can use them to enhance their own lifestyle, share with their friends and family (i.e., photos, watching movies, Skype), and there are always newly emerging CE technologies and a variety of options to keep this category interesting," said Shelly Colla, Premium Incentive Group - Sales Manager for Sony Electronics.
Brian Rivolta vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Incentive Concepts, agreed. "Since technology is always improving, participants are always looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest model," he explained. "There is also a big market for accessories that are compatible with new devices."
In fact, the CEA attributed some of the increase in industry revenues this year to the surge in sales of mobile-connected devices. Tablet computers, for example, are the fastest-growing category in CE history, according to the association, and smart phones are the primary driver of revenue for the industry.
"The electronics category carries the most in-demand, trendy and cutting-edge products geared for consumers who are interested in 'who has the best and newest toys for grownups,'" said Mary Ann Saggio, senior buyer for Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "Customers are always looking for the new technologies and coolest products to offer in their incentive and rewards programs, and the electronics industry satisfies this customer need."
And because this category continues to see innovative technology emerge at every turn, the excitement doesn't go away. "The ongoing media buzz of electronics creates interest from program participants and often gives them an added incentive to reach their goals and in turn redeem for these hot products," Saggio added. "Companies running incentive programs benefit from offering popular products because they directly tie into a program's goal of driving behavior by motivating participants."
"Sales of mobile connected devices continue to drive the overall industry to historic highs," Koenig said. "A raft of innovative products hit the market late in 2011," he added, and further explained that many more new products introduced at the 2012 International CES in January would be hitting the shelves in the coming months.
"The widespread trend from the recent Consumer Electronics Show that was reinforced throughout a number of manufacturers is that products that have 'smart technology' or 'interactive features' or couple with an Apple device will dominate the electronics marketplace," Saggio said.
Saggio cited big developments in technologies, such as Apple iCloud, 3-D, Smart TVs and Wi-Fi. "Manufacturers are incorporating these technologies into their products to take advantage of the popularity of social networking," she said. "Even in less expensive products, manufacturers are incorporating these features to keep up with their competition and give the customer what they crave."
Fitting the Wi-Fi and Apple-connected trend, the Klipsch Gallery G-17 Air powered speaker system from Crutchfield (left) will motivate your teams with its Apple AirPlay wireless streaming. The compact G-17 Air delivers a full-bodied sound that belies its small size, and can wirelessly connect with any Wi-Fi-enabled device that uses iTunes. You can pick your songs from your iPhone as you walk through your home, and have your choices play in every room. Or, watch a movie on your iPad with the soundtrack cranking through the G-17.
"Speaking of Wi-Fi," Saggio added, "we are seeing the emergence of cameras with built-in Wi-Fi, which allows people to share HD video and pictures from virtually anywhere. It allows users to send pictures or videos to friends right from their camera and post them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or a PC. Another cool feature is that many of these cameras will allow you to share the photos with other Wi-Fi-enabled camera, so you can send the pictures from your camera to a friend's camera."
The Sony Bloggie Sport HD Camera (left) includes features that make it crave-worthy for recipients who want to be able to upload their videos to social media sites and YouTube, all in a rugged design ideal for recording in extreme environments. It's shock-proof, dirt-resistant and even waterproof down to 16 feet. It captures Full HD videos and 5 MP still photos, and its 2.7 inch touch-screen remains fully operational even in the water. It is Mac and PC compatible with upload to Facebook, YouTube, etc., and can record up to 110 minutes of HD video with its 4 GB of internal memory. You can also easily tag videos to upload and share automatically later. Other features include SteadyShot image stabilization, LED light for low-light shooting situations, 4x digital zoom and Auto-Macro for versatile shooting, flip-out USB arm for upload or charging, Sony Exmor CMOS sensor for high-quality video and still images, face detection technology, built-in rechargeable battery and HDMI output.
The PowerShot ELPH 320 HS from Canon (left) offers super image quality with built-in Wi-Fi for easy sharing of images from almost anywhere. The camera can capture beautiful 1080p Full HD videos while the 3.2-inch PureColor System LCD responds to your touch for an interactive shooting experience. A 16.1-MP high-sensitivity CMOS Sensor and DIGIC 5 Image Processor has also been included to create Canon's HS System, letting you capture exceptional images even in low light.
GPS systems have also seen a host of advances. One such product, which fits the connectivity trend, is the Garmin GTU 10, available through PMC (right). This GPS locator combines a Web-based tracking service with GPS technology so you can keep a watch on children, pets and property. Lightweight and waterproof, it easily attaches to a backpack, pet collar or whatever is important to you. It comes with one year of standard tracking.
The In Crowd
Some of the most popular categories within consumer electronics continue to hold steady, including digital cameras and televisions. But other categories, including tablets, have risen rapidly and are highly desired by many program participants.
"Digital imaging products (i.e., digital still cameras, camcorders, MP4, DSLR) remain the most popular category, followed closely by LCD TVs," Colla said. "As for different categories being more effective than others, it really comes down to knowing your customer or gift recipient and selecting products that appeal to that demographic."
Catching the digital camera side of what's popular, here are a few choices that are sure to please:
- Highly compact and portable, the Nikon 1 J1 (above right) goes everywhere you go. Moments from your world are captured using a highly responsive autofocus and super fast shooting speed. In one touch you can work in Full HD 1080p movie record mode. A camera so versatile you can even snap photos while recording movies. Unleash your creativity with Nikon 1—offering a balance of high performance, advanced features, portability and a newly designed interchangeable lens system.
- The Vivitar 12.1-MP TWINView digital camera (right) is sleek and compact, perfect for special occasions and day-to-day events. With a 4x digital zoom lens and 2.4-inch LCD on back plus a 1.5-inch LCD on the front of the camera, you'll get great shots every time. The two LCD screens add versatility, great for self-portraits. Upload your photos at the press of a button with the included Vivitar Experience software. Also includes built-in lithium ion battery and charger, Auto Flash and SD card slot up to 32 GB.
- The Lumix GF2 12.1-MP DSL Micro Mirrorless Camera (below left), available through D&H Distributing, is Panasonic's signature DSL Micro Compact system camera in its mirrorless lineup. It's the smallest and lightest model offered by Panasonic, while still offering the superb image quality expected from Lumix. Comparing to the GF1, its predecessor, the GF2 has been reduced approximately 19 percent in size and approximately 7 percent in weight, yet still retains its signature built-in flash and all-metal body.
Televisions also continue to see changing technology. The CEA reports that household penetration of HDTVs is near 70 percent, while innovations like 3-D and Internet connectivity continue to see a rise of interest. TVs with 3-D functionality are expected to see a 101 percent increase in sales in 2012 to more than 6.2 million units, the CEA reports, while Internet-connected displays will also see steady growth, at an increase of 52 percent.
"The latest in television technology continues to be successful, as well as the most current trends in portable electronics, such as tablets," Rivolta said. "People like to have everything at their fingertips, and tablets make that very easy."
Colla agreed, adding that "…the explosion of tablet products has made this a significant new category." She said, "Tablets are so versatile (i.e., allow you to surf the Web, add endless apps, watch movies, listen to music, read books, Skype, etc.) that they appeal to a broad audience."
"Anything from Apple is an effective reward to incorporate into loyalty and recognition programs," Saggio explained. "The strength of the Apple brand and its world recognition for offering innovative products has helped to maintain the popularity of their products over time. There is a huge retail demand for Apple items, with everything from iPods, iPads, MacBooks, etc., and the same holds true for incentive participants."
Make texters happy by helping them avoid annoying auto-correct errors. The Ion iTYPE Slide-Out Bluetooth Case for iPhone 4, available through Rymax (above), eliminates the misunderstandings caused by auto-correct and helps users get more out of their iPhone 4. iTYPE SLIDE is a compact QWERTY keyboard nestled into an ultra-thin slide-out case design that transforms the iPhone 4 into an ultra-portable computer. Gets users typing effortlessly, on the go.
The most popular category Apple is leading right now, Saggio continued, is the astronomical rise in tablets. "Other companies have produced tablet products that are also helping the category to take off, such as the Samsung Galaxy and the BlackBerry PlayBook," she added.
For recipients who are already set up with their favorite tablet, you can add accessories, such as covers and more, to help make their technology even more user-friendly.
For example, Brookstone offers the iConvert Personal Scanner for iPad and iPad 2 Tablets (left). The scanner instantly converts photos or documents from 2 inches to 8 ½ inches wide into full-color JPEG files in crisp, clear 300-dpi resolution and saves them to your tablet's "Photos" folder. This allows users to archive important papers, recipes, old photos, tax forms and more as detailed e-files. It is far more accurate at capturing text details than photos created with a digital camera, and works with a free scanning app available at the App Store.
And, for those who are looking for a more traditional computing reward, Premco Associates offers Dell (right) to the premium incentive industry. Since the first Dell PC was introduced in 1986, Dell has continued to break new ground and pioneer critical developments in home, small business and enterprise computing.
Tried and True
"Some categories," Rivolta said, "never go out of style, such as headphones and home theater systems. They evolve and improve, but they don't lose their appeal."
Indeed, audio has come a long way since the days of 8-track players, and these days, new tunes can be purchased and heard with a couple of clicks of a button. Listening to this music, though, means you need the tools—speakers, headphones, docking systems for your MP3 player and more—to really tune in. Here are a few examples of tools you can offer to increase your recipients' listening pleasure:
- You can enjoy Bose sound from a speaker small enough to go with your whenever and wherever with the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker (above right). The speaker connects wirelessly to your mobile phone or any Bluetooth device. Bose proprietary technology delivers deep low notes for a full-range listening experience. The SoundLink speaker's sleek design features a black aluminum grille and brushed chrome end caps. It has an integrated cover made of durable slate gray nylon, which protects it during transport. It's easy to put the speaker in your bag and take it with you to the park, the beach or anywhere you go. Plus, the cover unfolds into a stand. The automatic sleep-mode feature powers down the speaker when you close the cover. You can keep the party going for hours with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. And the speaker has an auxiliary input for use with other devices.
- Another portable speaker available through Top Brands, and only 2.5 inches high, the SuperSonic SC-1325 (right) packs a lot of sound. Not only does it have a built-in FM radio, rechargeable lithium battery and stand, but it includes a USB input and micro SD slot. The auxiliary input allows you to connect to an MP3/MP4 player, laptop and more.
- Designed for music lovers, the Soundfreaq Sound Platform Bluetooth Dock, available through Rymax (below left), is acoustically balanced to complement every genre, at any volume. It's crafted for natural bias response, vocal clarity and full stereo separation—the way music is intended to be heard. Sound Platform is optimized to fit in any room and fill it with exceptional acoustics. With custom-engineered and Kevlar-reinforced balanced drivers, acoustically tuned dual-port chamber and UQ3 spatial enhancement processor, Soundfreaq delivers big sound with a small footprint. It is compatible with Bluetooth products, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android and BlackBerry devices.
- The JiSS-300i Jensen Docking Digital CD Music System for iPod and iPhone, available through Spectra Merchandising (below right), is a portable docking boombox music system with built-in CD player that plays and charges your iPhone and iPod. The unit features a front loading dock for your iPhone or iPod, a top loading CD player, CD-R/RW compatible and an FM stereo receiver. The system also includes a multi-function blue back-lit display, auxiliary input jack for connecting an MP3 or other external digital audio players, carrying handle and remote control. It operates on either AC power or optional DC battery power, and can also be used with computer systems, laptops, game consoles, portable gaming devices or satellite radio receivers and is compatible with all MP3 players via the auxiliary line-in jack.
"A category we are seeing continuing to rise is celebrity-endorsed headphones," Saggio said. "Fans want to mirror what their favorite celebrities are using, and shows like American Idol and its popularity reinforce this idea."
For a good example, turn to All That’s New & Innovative, where headphones designed and endorsed by Lady Gaga show how style and function can live in wedded bliss.
Home theater is another category that never loses appeal. "In terms of home theater," Rivolta said, "soundbars are incredibly popular right now. They are easy to set up and do not require the use of multiple speakers. One of our more popular new items has been the Cinemate 1 SR Home Theater Speaker System from Bose."
All of our experts emphasized the importance of brand recognition, as well as working with incentive partners who know how to help you develop an optimum program that will successfully meet your needs.
"When using electronics as incentives, brand recognition is very important," Rivolta said. "People are more likely to talk about the reward they got from their employer or loyalty program if it has a trophy value to it."
"As important as choosing the right product or brand, please make sure you are partnering with the particular manufacturer's preferred Incentive Fulfillment Distributors to secure the best overall program," Colla added.
And Saggio suggested that it's wise to stay aware of the market as it changes. "My best advice is to always keep a lookout for the newest technologies and the retail release of these products," she said. "Manufacturers are constantly working to make items thinner, have better screen resolution, etc., so it's important to follow the trends and retail launches to plan your incentive buys accordingly. An advantage of working with a manufacturer's representative is they can give you access to the latest inventory to ensure you can offer your participants the newest items as soon as they hit the incentive marketplace."