Online Reward System: What Rewards Did Participants Redeem for in 2019?

by: Nichole Gunn February 12, 2020

When selecting an online reward system for your business, it’s important to choose a platform that’s stocked with rewards participants care about. Every year, we analyze redemption stats from our online catalog to see what items and categories were most popular.

This serves several purposes: First, it allows us to improve our vendor selection and make sure we continue to provide the best reward system online. But it also allows us to spot possible trends in the industry to inform future design decisions and provide insights to our clients as they structure their reward programs.

This past year, there was some interesting movement in our top reward categories compared to our results the year before. Plus, we’ll be seeing how these results stack up with the self-reported participant interests from our Rewards Program 2020 survey.

5 Most Redeemed Online Reward System Items of 2019

Below are the online merchandise rewards that were redeemed most often in 2019, from hundreds of programs across dozens of industries:

  1. Fandango Movie Tickets: For the third year in a row, Fandango Movie Tickets were the most redeemed item from our online catalog. Fandango Movie Tickets have three qualities that explain their popularity: Movie tickets are experiential, easily attainable, and can be shared with family and friends. Number Redeemed in 2019: 7,270
  2. Redbox Movie Rentals: Redbox Movie Rentals remained one of the top items in our online reward system. Although slightly less of an experience than going to a movie theater, Redbox Movie Rentals are a good example of a reward that fits a participant’s lifestyle. With super low points costs, movie rentals are perfect for the instant gratification crowd. Number Redeemed in 2019: 3,901
  3. Apple® AirPods: Climbing up two spots in 2019, Apple® AirPods came in at number three on our list. Music was one of the top participant interests in our recent survey, and Apple® AirPods have been a trending tech item for several years now. AirPods are a good example of a lifestyle reward that requires significantly more effort to earn than a movie ticket, but doesn’t require nearly as many points as more premium items in our online reward system catalog. Number Redeemed in 2019: 1,901
  4. YETI Mugs and Coolers: YETI was a new vendor that we added to our online reward system in 2019, and it certainly didn’t take long for them to make a splash! One of the benefits of rewards like YETI mugs and coolers is that participants will think of you every time they use them. And those things last forever! Number Redeemed in 2019: 1,452
  5. Titleist Golf Balls: Recreational Sports was the second most popular interest in our participant survey. In this case, the numbers don’t lie! Reasonably attainable, Titleist Golf Balls are the perfect reward for participants who likes to get in a couple of rounds of golf on the weekend. Number Redeemed in 2019: 1,051

Top 10 Online Reward Categories for 2019

Looking at the top reward items is fun, but zooming out to look at the top categories gives you more actionable insights for what types of rewards to include in your online reward system.

Top Online Reward System Redemptions 2019 Compressed

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  1. Apple Store & Electronics: This year, Electronics climbed to the top spot, experiencing a 35.74% increase in redemptions. Electronics have become an inherent part of the participant lifestyle and a huge part of their day-to-day experience. Any successful online reward system has to offer participants the chance to earn great tech gear from top brands. Additionally, Electronics/Tech was one of the top reward program participant interests for 2020 from our survey.
  2. Entertainment: Entertainment is another important reward that’s experiential and enhances participant lifestyle. Our online reward catalog includes event passes and tickets for movies, concerts, and sporting events hat participants love. As millennials make up more and more of workplace and customer demographics, Entertainment will only become more popular as a reward category. Entertainment reward redemptions increased by 9.14% in 2019.
  3. Home & Garden: Although Home & Garden fell several places in our top ten list, overall redemptions for Home & Garden increased by 26.25% from 2018. While it may not be the most fun or experiential category in our online reward system, Home & Garden is an important lifestyle element for many participants.
  4. Gift & Debit Cards*: For this category, we need to provide a quick disclaimer: Gift cards and debit cards are mostly used in card-only programs. The benefit of card programs are their speed and flexibility, but they are definitely a little less personal and memorable than tangible merchandise rewards. Overall card redemptions increased by 32.87%.
  5. Sporting Goods: Sporting Goods redemptions only increased by 5.29%, so it was passed by other reward categories in 2019. But this remains a popular reward category that is perfect for more active participant bases.
  6. Tools & Hardware: In 2019, redemptions for this category increased by a whopping 56.8%! But when you think about how many contractor programs we operate, this makes sense. For them, Tools & Hardware redemptions might measurably reduce their operating costs.
  7. Toys: Toys leapfrogged several spots on our top ten reward categories. Redemptions for Toys increased by 29.06%. Across all of the programs we operate, 20% of participants are married. Chances are, being able to redeem their reward points towards gifts for their children and grandchildren is a sweet deal!
  8. Accessories & Jewelry: Accessories & Jewelry was a new member of our top ten in 2019. Redemptions for this category increased 122.12%. This trending item is a must-have for an effective online reward system. For manufacturers and distributors, providing branded apparel as part of your reward selection is an increasingly popular incentive strategy.
  9. Personal Care: Personal Care was another new addition to our top ten list, increasing by 30.91% and rising several spots. If Personal Care isn’t a lifestyle reward, I don’t know what is!
  10. Online Travel: One of the coolest features of our online reward system is the ability to redeem reward points for travel expenses, airfare, and hotel accommodations. Online Travel redemptions increased by 28.13% in 2019. Not only that, by dollar value, Online Travel was our third most popular category.

Other Features to Look for in Your Online Reward System

Now that you know the types of rewards that participants will be excited to redeem, it’s time to consider other features that make for a successful online reward system. These include:

  • Integration with your company website, customer portals, and CRM.
  • Data collection and sales verification tools.
  • Dedicated customer support to facilitate redemptions.
  • Communication platforms for email, SMS, push notifications, and site announcements.
  • Elements of gamification such as trivia, leaderboards, and spin-to-wins to build long-term engagement.
  • The ability to curate the reward selection in your online catalog.
  • In-house reward technology development and support.
  • Incentive management to provide strategic guidance and achieve program ROI.
  • Advanced analytics, reports, and dashboards.

By using the right platforms and featuring the right rewards, your online reward system is sure to be a success!

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About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.