SOURCE: The Incentive Research Foundation

June 07, 2013 12:52 ET

IRF Spring 2013 Pulse Survey Finds Increased Optimism, Innovation Among Incentive Professionals

More Than Half of Those Surveyed Say the Economy Is Helping Drive the Creation of More Incentive Programs

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - Jun 7, 2013) - Economic recovery is providing a boost to those in the motivation industry, says the latest Pulse Survey from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). The IRF's Spring 2013 poll of more than 2,000 program planners, suppliers and buyers reports a 13-point increase among respondents who characterize the economy as having a "positive impact" on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel and merchandise programs -- 56% vs. 43% six months ago.

A full 82% of those respondents expect incentive travel budgets will stay the same or increase in 2013, painting a much rosier picture of an industry that has suffered its share of slings and arrows over the past five years. In addition, innovation is playing a critical role in many incentive programs these days, either as part of the planning process or as a key outcome. Nearly half of respondents say they have an innovation strategy in place or are looking at one.

These are just a few of the program-related trends that emerged from the most recent IRF Pulse Survey, which twice a year asks professionals for their opinions on some of the key trends affecting the incentive industry. The surveys cover indicators such as budget changes, specific program elements, incentive travel, merchandise/noncash rewards and other issues that affect program planning and implementation.

Additional highlights from the IRF Spring 2013 Pulse Survey include:

  • Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) continue to be popular enhancements to incentive programs, although their usage has dipped slightly since September of 2012;
  • Despite the fact that a majority (64%) indicate they use points-based systems for their merchandise/noncash incentive programs, this figure is down from 82% in the September 2012 Pulse Survey;
  • When asked how budget increases or cuts have affected program outcomes, 91% of those who increased budgets indicated a corresponding increase in sales results;
  • 39% of respondents anticipate no change with respect to destinations for incentive travel programs this year. 17.5% say they will pick locations closer to home and 16.8% will select domestic rather than international destinations with the move away from international travel stabilizing; 
  • When asked which specific regions they will likely choose for their incentive travel programs, 42% of respondents selected North America, 34% said Central/South America, 32% selected the Caribbean, and 31% chose Europe; and,
  • Top product categories in merchandise-based incentive programs are Electronics (61%), Clothing/Apparel (49%), Golf Items (45%), Jewelry/Watches (45%), Luggage (44%) and Housewares (40%).

For more information and detailed results of the IRF Spring 2013 Pulse 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.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jon Lieb/Lois Russo
    IRF Media Relations