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White wrapped present stands out hit003 on Thinkstock by Getty Images
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Small Businesses Score Big with Merchandise Rewards

Image by hit003 on Thinkstock by Getty Images

While money may make the world go around, when it comes to motivating employees in small businesses, merchandise rules. Eighty-two percent of respondents to a recent survey sponsored by the Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance say offering apparel, food and beverage, and electronics rewards lifts morale, 80 percent say merchandise is an effective motivator, and 61 percent say it’s more memorable than handing out a cash reward.

“The research demonstrates that merchandise incentive programs are an effective business practice for small businesses,” Melissa Van Dyke, president of the Incentive Research Foundation, which conducted the study. For the study, businesses were considered to be small if they had annual sales ranging from $1 million to $50 million.

Most likely to be on the merchandise receiving end are employees (89 percent); followed by salespeople (87 percent), distributors (83 percent), and customers (80 percent). Seventy percent of respondents also say they prefer to present merchandise rewards in person, whether at a company meeting or on the spot. Half of the respondents say they offer points-based merchandise reward programs, where participants can accumulate points to redeem for merchandise of their choice. Among the qualities these companies deem very important are the merchandise’s practicality (56 percent), memorability (51 percent), wow factor (45 percent), and brand name recognition (44 percent).

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