Motivational programs add modern touches,

but economics still drive where, what and how people are rewarded

St. Louis – November 19, 2012 – Incentive programs are incorporating state-of-the-art tools and techniques such as Social Media, Community Service and Gaming as a way to attract and maintain interest, according to the Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) 2012 Fall Pulse Survey of incentive users. The survey also shows that Gaming is gaining in popularity over Social Media and Community Service strategies.  

A Look at What is Happening Now

Providing the industry’s most reliable barometer by presenting a current snapshot of the latest trends, the IRF Pulse Survey shows that Merchandise, Gift Card and Individual Travel programs are benefiting from current economic conditions as companies plan fewer group incentive travel programs. Additionally, North American and Caribbean destinations remain the favored selections as opposed to overseas destinations, and, in terms of favored merchandise, the study found that Electronics, Golf Items, Luggage and Housewares remain the most popular rewards.

These trends emerged from the most recent IRF Pulse Survey, which twice a year asks professionals their opinions about the more salient trends affecting the incentive industry. The IRF Pulse Surveys cover budget changes, specific program elements, incentive travel, merchandise/noncash rewards and other issues affecting program planning and implementation.

Additional Highlights from the IRF’s Fall 2012 Pulse Survey

The ‘average’ incentive program in the Fall of 2012…

  • Is less likely to incorporate a social media and/or CSR component (compared to last Fall)
  • Is more likely to incorporate a gaming component (up 6 percentage points)


The ‘average’ incentive travel program in the Fall of 2012…

  • Most likely remains a domestic destination rather than overseas (45%)
  • Increasingly involves the company Procurement department (38%)
  • Will have essentially the same budget (48%)
  • Will include a destination in North America (53%) or the Caribbean (46%)
  • Will involve more individual travel (32%)


The ‘average’ merchandise/noncash incentive program in the Fall of 2012…

  • Will be positively affected by the economy (50%)
  • Will have increased merchandise award values (36%)
  • Will offer more gift cards (31%)
  • Will include these types of rewards: Electronics (79%), Golf Items (68%), Luggage (66%) and Housewares (62%)
  • Will be a point-based program (82%)
  • Will have a slightly higher budget (42%)


To learn more or to download the full study, please go to:

About the IRF:

The Incentive Research Foundation ( funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance


Press Contact:

Jon Lieb/Lois Russo

IRF Media Relations

(212) 563-8025