Trends in Incentives

Each year we look towards industry experts to predict what they believe the trends will be for the coming year. One such body is the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) who continuously monitors activity in the incentives, reward, and recognition markets. This year the synopsis of the IRF forecast is that the overall outlook is positive; gift card popularity is on the rise; and gift card programme spending is also on the increase. While taking various industry predictions into account is important, it’s also important to take a step back and to look at the bigger picture at times – what trends are predicted in the grand scheme of things? In many cases these trends will trickle down and shape niche industries too, so why not zoom out and have a better idea of what may be on the horizon.

One such eye-opening report is Euromonitor International’s ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2018 – Emerging Forces Shaping Consumer Behaviour’ – you can download the full report here . Of the ten consumer trends, three in particular are of interest and may influence how we structure incentive strategies in the future.


‘Consumers are adopting clean-living, more minimalist lifestyles, where moderation and integrity are key. Clustering around educated 20–29-year-olds […] Clean Lifers prefer to stay in and relax rather than hit a nightclub. […] A night out to a club is expensive, short-lived, and not particularly healthy or safe. Clean Lifers would rather spend their money on experiences, such as weekends away, festivals and restaurants, where they are able to chat with friends, or healthier social alternatives, such as hosting fitness class parties from yoga to high intensity workouts.’


‘A new generation of community-minded sharers, renters and subscribers is reshaping the economy, making conspicuous consumption a thing of the past. Rejecting material goods in favour of experiences and a freer lifestyle, which has characterised the buying habits of millennials for the last few years, is a trend that continues to evolve and spread. It is now beginning to impact older generations: previously materialistic Baby Boomers are looking to downsize and simplify their lives.’


‘The lingering impact of the global financial crisis has encouraged prime, working-age older Millennials and Gen X-ers to re-evaluate their spending habits. Simultaneously, the rise of the sharing economy, with pioneers such as Uber and Airbnb, is eroding their desire to own goods (see The Borrowers trend). The shift in focus from possessions to experiences is changing purchasing patterns, and driving buyers to connect with the product creation process. For some, merely to own is unrefined, but I-Designers, participating in creation, design and build, are seen as sophisticated connoisseurs.’

The report makes for fascinating reading. Take a look at your customer and employee base – can you see the tell-tale signs of these trends emerging? Incentives should always be tailored to suit specific audiences, if you aren’t giving people what they want, you’re missing the mark. For more on how to optimise your incentive strategy to suit specific consumer types and trends, contact Debbie Ghillino at The Incentive Company.

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