What Holiday Returns Teach Us About Reward Offerings

January 3, 2017
| ByMike Ryan

Now that the holiday gift giving frenzy is over, only one tradition remains…the returns! Go to any mall and you will see long lines of people looking to exchange the gifts they got for the stuff that they really wanted.

What does the holiday returns process teach us about reward offerings? By watching it unfold we learn one simple thing—trying to predict what will motivate people (to sell more or work harder) is a foolish undertaking. What the long lines reinforce is that the rewards that really work are the ones we choose ourselves.

I speak a lot at conferences and invariably a question comes up that sounds something like this: “What awards work best?” My answer has always been the same. While you should always look to include the more “popular” items, of course, a robust catalogue is what truly works best. The secret to capturing the attention and efforts of salespeople and employees alike are choices –lots and lots of choices.

When you look at studies that confirm the motivational appeal of non-cash rewards, the attraction rises significantly when people have a specific item in mind. In other words, people are more motivated when they know they can get exactly what they want.

What they want will also surprise you. For over four decades Madison has showcased and redeemed rewards for millions and millions of participants around the globe. We have seen all types of items—from practical everyday staples to once in a lifetime luxuries—make their way to winners.

Next time you plan a rewards offering don’t make the mistake of choosing items you think will work best. Go with a larger collection. That’s the lesson learned from Holiday return lines.

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