THE SOURCE for brand name merchandise incentives.

IMRA Quarterly Newsletter
4Q 2016

IMRA reps are your first stop for corporate merchandise needs
Part 4 of 4:

The Keys to 
Holiday Gifting 

By Incentive's Custom Media Team

This four-part series concludes with our feature on corporate holiday gifting, a pertinent topic as we continue through Q4. Check the links below to see the other helpful newsletters in the series.

Corporate holiday gifting has ostensibly become more important than ever as companies look to retain their top talent and cement relationships top clients and partners. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute’s (ASI) 7th annual Corporate Gift Spending Report, released last December, companies are spending more on holiday gift giving. The report found that businesses spent an average of $44 on holiday gifts for employees, up 16% from the year prior, with nearly a quarter of all companies spending over $100 on each employee gift.

Additionally, the total amount spent on client gifts also increased as nearly half of the companies surveyed reported giving higher-priced gifts to higher-value clients. Highlighting the importance of name brand merchandise, respondents included branded electronics, handbags and housewares among the best corporate gifts they’ve ever received.

“If you can give a nice designer branded gift, it goes a really long way to say that you appreciate someone,” says Nichole Gunn, director of marketing and communications at Atlanta-based Incentive Solutions. “People think of your brand and what it stands for and they associate that with gift or reward that you give. [The brand name gift] says a lot more in terms of appreciation.”

Brand names rate

In selecting appropriate brand name merchandise, Gunn suggests knowing your demographic, noting that what appeals to Baby Boomers will likely be different from what Millennials like. But she points out that certain brands will have mass appeal and will offer different product lines for different demographics. “If you’re looking at designer sunglasses, you can offer a selection of four or five or limit the dollar amount per pair and that becomes something to really consider,” she offers.

Gunn also advises tying a corporate holiday gift program into a sales goal or marketing campaign, adding that one client recently gave out brand name shoes in the company’s corporate colors in order to tie the gift to a sales campaign entitled ‘Get Your Foot in the Door.’ “It can help to drive excitement about the sales or marketing program and you also don’t want gift recipients expecting a gift, if it’s not in the budget next year,” she says.

Price, however, doesn’t need to be the deciding factor in giving brand name merchandise as opposed to generic gifts. Gunn points out that deals are available in bulk and negotiated rates when working with an incentive company. “You can get some really great branded merchandise that’s not that expensive, but you have to understand what it’s worth to you at the end of the year,” she says.

Gunn explains that delivery is also key to making a branded gift go a really long way. “We include thank you notes from our CEO when we give corporate gifts because they reinforce whatever the branded product is,” she adds. 

Call to action

The Incentive Manufacturers and Representative Alliance (IMRA) comprises suppliers and independent manufacturer's sales representatives providing brand name merchandise to incentive program providers. To learn more about how best to utilize merchandise, contact industry representatives and suppliers by visiting

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Learn more about these IMRA member brands
(just hover your cursor over the merchandise below)


Make Bulova’s new CURV the centerpiece of your unique Gift-in-Time program. It's the world’s first curved chronograph movement with five-hand chronograph function and high performance quartz technology with 262 kHz vibrational frequency for precise accuracy. A 12-piece collection can satisfy every guest’s personal tastes and make the event memorable!


Click here for more information...

(Latin: Having the Property of Extraordinary Clarity)

With over 20 years of designing and producing both custom and classic Awards of Recognition that are uniquely geared to the individual recipient, we provide the industry a fresh and updated look of glass.


Click here for more information...



Whether raising your game to SLR level the EOS 80D is your answer. Featuring a 45-point all cross-type AF system, 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. With advanced operation are built-in wireless connectivity and Full HD 60p movies the EOS 80D is a dynamic SLR.

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DRIVE from Citizen

Each timepiece is powered by light using Citizen Eco-Drive technology. Eco-Drive harnesses the power of any light – from any natural or artificial light source – and converts it into energy which is then stored in a permanently rechargeable lithium-ion cell.  The watch charges continuously in any kind of light to run forever, so you’ll never need to change your watch battery again.

Discover Drive.

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The Benefits of Merchandise

There are some parts of the incentive merchandise business that don't change. The importance of using brands that are exciting and aspirational to the participants as awards, and delivering those awards in a timely fashion, are chief among them.

The benefits of including merchandise in non-sales employee recognition, engagement, safety and wellness programs is also worth mentioning. While the amounts saved by those programs are far lower than in sales, there are many more participants, and they are just as motivated by brand-name merchandise as salespeople. And, many participants view the incentive programs they're in as a long-term commitment.

"What we see, particularly within employee programs where participants may earn points to redeem for merchandise from a variety of activities, is them saving up," says Mary MacGregor, coporate vice president of event solutions at BI Worldwide. "They save their points year over year because they target those higher-ticket items, so that might also be what's driving that up."

In fact, U.S. employers spent $3.2 billion on incentive awards for non-sales employees, compared to $3.7 billion for sales staff and $2.8 billion for dealer-channel programs in 2015, according to the "Incentive Marketplace Estimate Research Study," released in summer 2016 by the Incentive Federation. Add in points-based incentive programs, which generally offer merchandise awards, and another $8.1 billion was spent on non-sales employee programs, compared to $8.3 billion for sales and $6.3 billion for channel sales.

Adapted from Incentive magazine.


Why Use Brands?

Learn How to Put the Power of Brand Name Merchandise Behind You... here for the full story...




An Incentive Research Foundation report finds that 72% of small businesses
using merchandise rewards
experienced growth
in the past year.



Personalization is key to small business rewards.

In-person presentation of merchandise rewards

(at company meetings/functions, or on the spot) are most preferred (70%). 

(IMRA Small Business Merchandise Market Study)



Small business owners are generally unfamiliar

with the services and advantages a merchandise representative can provide,

such as below-MSRP pricing.

(IMRA Small Business Merchandise Market Study)


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"The basic idea that incentives
can be used to motivate behavior
is a powerful one."

—Emily Oster,
economist and author