The Gift of Experience

Posted on: 4th June 2015

Reward programmes have changed a lot over the years. When they began, rewards were often gift vouchers, wine, chocolate or dare I say it cash.

And even though all of these still have their place in one way or another, our understanding of what really motivates people has moved on significantly.

In a recent study a group of people were questioned over what they would or wouldn’t choose if they were given a reward. Their answers gave a resounding victory for cash, followed by vouchers. That makes sense right, after all it’s an easy answer to give. Cash and, to a lesser extent, vouchers are flexible and can be spent almost anywhere; it doesn’t take much thought ‘I’ll have the cash and then I can make my mind up later’. The problem is that just because it’s the easiest answer to give it doesn’t mean it’s the option that will make you happiest. When questioned afterwards, virtually the entire group said that they believed experiences would have been a better choice, but that the cash or vouchers were easier to quantify when put on the spot.

We didn’t just take this study as gospel, we put it to the test in a project we did for a client who wanted to increase car sales across it’s dealer base. We set up an a-b test where a cash incentive was offered to a third of dealers, a third of the dealers were offered a points-based incentive where aspirational experiences were up for grabs. The final third was a control group who received no incentives above and beyond their normal pay package. The control group sales remained relatively constant throughout the 4 month trial, but the cash group increased their sales by over 5%, a great result! It was the experience group who really stepped up with a 13% increase in new car sales. During the trial debrief we wanted to understand the psychology of this incredible result and the overwhelming feedback was that there was a much greater buzz created around the experiences that snow balled as the programme went on. The rewards were relevant, people were excited and they could parade their success to their peers without it feeling vulgar.

Faced with a choice of cash, vouchers, an iPad or a day trip away, which would you choose? Maybe you are the kind of person who doesn’t feel awkward bragging about the cash bonus you received at work, but a lot of people do.

Bear this in mind when choosing the rewards you’d like to offer on your reward programme, by offering a mixture of experiences and aspirational products you will find that your users get a much greater feeling of happiness from the rewards and they associate that great feeling with what they did to achieve it.

Offering a wide selection of rewards means people can redeem what they like, when they want. Here at incentivesmart we pride ourselves on a catalogue of exciting and aspirational rewards from the standard chocolates and wine to the latest video games, amazing holidays, gym equipment, the latest TVs and tech. We even have aspirational pieces such as Mulberry leather goods, Tiffany jewellery, Fortnum and Mason hampers and branded watches. The selection is updated and refreshed weekly with new products and seasonal catalogues promoted throughout the year.

When it comes to rewarding your people remember, cash is less effective, choice is imperative, experience is king.


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