Brand name merchandise has long proven to be a valuable tool to motivate, reward and recognize both employees and customers. Yet, the purchasing methods used by businesses to obtain those products may not always be the most cost-effective, nor include the professional expertise on which brands and products are most meaningful to the intended recipients.
There’s a little-known association dedicated to tackling these exact challenges when it comes to utilizing merchandise: IMRA. The Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance (IMRA) consists of leading brands, product suppliers, and local representatives working with incentive companies and businesses to optimize their use of merchandise.
Picking a winner
In 2015, IMRA commissioned a Small Business Merchandise Survey to learn about buying behaviors. About half of the 215 small business merchandise decision-makers who completed the IMRA survey didn't realize that manufacturers’ representatives can provide factory-direct pricing or below-MSRP pricing on merchandise. Only one-third were aware of the contribution these reps can make in the creation of effective rewards programs by offering consultative advice on planning, executing and measuring the performance of merchandise rewards.
Additionally, less than 45 percent of those polled know that manufacturers’ representatives can facilitate merchandise selection in order to offer a product line-up that's appealing to the target audience. These sales reps can also provide input on the most pertinent merchandise mix to include, ensuring that all program participants can find an award that motivates them to excel. Better still, manufacturers’ representatives can provide additional services that are often among small businesses’ criteria for selecting merchandise providers, including online purchasing, fulfillment capabilities, myriad merchandise categories to select from and merchandise customization.
The right award
While many studies show that brand name merchandise awards are extremely effective motivators, that's true only if you choose the right award. Knowing your participants helps, but age, class, gender and a host of other demographics play a big part in selecting the brands and items that will get them to put in that extra effort. IMRA members have the experience, resources and know-how to help you employ a highly motivating award or catalog of awards that your participants will find exciting and memorable.
An IMRA rep is uniquely qualified to help you hit the target. The goal of any incentive award is to inspire program recipients so they raise their game to new heights. Getting the right merchandise is crucial for attaining that "wow" factor. When seeking out the right incentive, a good guide is to think: "unique, personalized and outside the box."
The right reps
Finding the right manufacturer representative is as simple as contacting IMRA, whose members include direct factory representatives. They will consult with you and can quote the lowest “factory-direct” price available within the corporate channel, directly from top brand names.
As the frontline for brand names with well-established reputations, IMRA’s manufacturers’ representatives ensure a high standard of professionalism and consistency that inspires trust and confidence in clients. Their unique relationship with manufacturers that they partner with allows reps to offer clients value-added services such as the latest product photography, custom packaging and in certain cases, imprinting and other forms of personalization. That's in addition to ensuring that your awards are the latest model of product on the market.
The right stuff
As members of the brands’ sales and marketing teams, IMRA reps have the relationships and network connections to get you the absolute best price, service and partnerships. They have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate the wide options available among all the merchandise available. Especially if you're new to the field, you would be wise to have an IMRA rep by your side.
IMRA reps benefit from a network of relationships that truly helps them become experts at facilitating the use of merchandise in incentive programs and corporate gifting. Their ongoing professional ties include access to the latest industry research and resources. This enables them to provide you with the most up-to-date information on products and trends to support successful programs that will resonate with incentive recipients.
Take the next step
A strategic industry group, IMRA has more than four decades of experience in fostering relationships between manufacturers’ representatives and buyers of brand name incentive products. To work with an IMRA manufacturers’ representative, visit: