When it comes to merchandise awards, the sexes couldn't be farther apart. CMI polled several incentive houses to find out the most popular gift choices for each of the sexes:

For the Ladies:

  • It depends on age, says Catherine Carson, marketing director, Incentive Solutions, Atlanta: “Women over 30 prefer jewelry and leather luggage. Women under 30 tend to select home cooking gear.”

  • Reports Atlanta-based USMotivation's Anne Klein: “In a recent incentive program where 45 percent of the winners were female, we found the following to be the most popular: televisions, cameras, camcorders, DVD players, and golf equipment.”

For the Gentlemen:

  • “Men of all ages choose electronics; outdoor sporting gear; outdoor home equipment, like grills; and luggage,” says Carson.

Of course, sex is only one factor that influences award choices; there's also age and demographics. Says Karen Renk, executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association: “The most popular incentives are lifestyle gifts, especially those that relate to the ‘cocooning’ dynamic.”