Incentive Research Foundation Expands 2022 Industry Outlook to Include Europe

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It’s exciting to see both the similarities and differences between the North American and European markets. For both North America and Europe, 78% of respondents reported that they expect their company to have strong financial performance in 2022.

The Incentive Research Foundation’s Industry Outlook for 2022: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting reports an optimistic outlook for 2022 tempered by the lingering effects of Covid, cancellations, and uncertainty in 2021. For the first time ever, this IRF signature study was expanded include European participants.

“It’s exciting to see both the similarities and differences between the North American and European markets. For both North America and Europe, 78% of respondents reported that they expect their company to have strong financial performance in 2022,” said Stephanie Harris, IRF President. “When we drill down into how gift cards, merchandise and event gifting are being used, we see some very different trends in Europe compared to North America.”

The IRF surveyed 481 industry professionals, with 275 coming from North America and 206 originating from Europe. Tracking key metrics over twelve years, the study provides trends in economic optimism, budgets, and award types for incentive programs. Key findings in Industry Outlook for 2022: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting include:

  • Budgets & Spending Are Up: Overall incentive budgets are expected to increase by 34% in 2022, with merchandise increasing 30% and gift cards 34%. Per-person spend increased to $806 from $764.
  • Optimism is Increasing: 63% of North Americans respondents believe the U.S. economic outlook is strong for 2022, compared to only 50% going into 2021.
  • Cancellation Rates Also Increased: Merchandise and gift card program cancellations rose from 29% in 2020 to 44% in 2021.
  • Merchandise Priorities Vary: North Americans place a higher emphasis on logoed brand merchandise, while Europeans are more likely to give office accessories as a gift.
  • Differences in Gift Card Selection: Europeans are more likely to give gift cards for accessories, jewelry, beauty products, travel, and grocery. North Americans are more likely to give ‘big box’ retailer cards and coffee cards.
  • Shifts in Event Gifting Sourcing: Online retailers have surpassed corporate sales as the primary purchase source of event gifts.

To view or download a copy of the study, visit the Industry Outlook for 2022: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting webpage.

The release of the IRF’s Industry Outlook for 2022: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting was supported by IRF Research Advocacy Partner, Tango Card.

About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation (TheIRF.org) 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.

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