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Does A Recession Inspire Innovation?

April 28, 2010

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When a recession hits our country like it has here recently, it puts even more pressures on companies to perform well. Pressure applied by the consumers investing in their brand. When the economy slumps, conusmers have less money to spend, therefore using more discretion when making purchasing decisions. This means that your customers will want to get the most for their money aka get great products cheap. It’s times like these when consumers have the most influence on the market demand. Companies are even more compelled to cater to the needs of their buyers since there is less buying power but the same, if not more, competition to get hold of those purchasing dollars.

Companies are forced to do more with less. For those who are complacent and not led by future-minded individuals, a recession can lead to disaster. Sure, even the best and well led companies will experience hurt from a recession (almost everyone does) but it’s a matter of minimizing that negative impact and coming out of the economic downfall even stronger than before. When their backs are up against the ropes, companies are forced to do something to weather the storm and be stronger in the future.

They have to be innovative.

Creating new products and coming up with more cost-effective ways to deliver products are just a couple of the results of a recession. Sustainability pratices and #CSR have really come into vogue lately in the corporate world. When resources (environmental and financial) are scarce, we are forced to make what resources we have go further than before. They have to find out new ways to make their products cheaper for their client base so they can gain some potentially lost business as a result of the recession and retain that business once the dust settles. These ways may result in lower profit margins in the short run. However, provided they help a company “thrive” in a recession, these decisions will reap greater long term dividends.

Do businesses only innovate and change when they have to? Tough times hurt but they can help re-structure a company for the better. It’s like the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” What companies do you see being stronger as a result of the recession?

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Skip the Lines, Be Your Own Barista: Merchandise Monday

April 26, 2010
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Coffee makers were a huge focus at this year’s Home+Housewares Show in Chicago. More specifically: single-serve coffee makers. The single-serve coffee maker has been one of – if not the – fastest growing segments in the housewares industry. Single-serve machines have been out for several years but have not caught fire until recently. Improvements in the actual quality of the machines and varieties of coffees available for them have contributed to the recent surge in interest.
 
Like anything else, the economy has played a role in the popularity of single-serve coffee machines. Consumers want coffee shop quality coffee but without the coffee shop quality prices. This is where single-serves have come into play. With the growing amount of coffee varieties becoming available, including some flavors from places like Starbucks, it is becoming more economical and feasible for people to make coffee shop quality coffee in their own home.
 
What are some of the rising stars in this new market segment? The Tassimo single-serve coffee maker has seen a rise in popularity. Produced by Bosch, Tassimo offers more than just standard coffee with options ranging from Starbucks House Blend, Milka hot chocolate and even Twinings English Breakfast Tea. The machine is also capable of brewing up espresso and macchiato style single-serve hot beverages as well.
 
As far as being considered “leader of the pack,” Keurig definitely takes that title. Its single-serve machine has been a game changer and has quickly risen to be the most popular item in its category. Like Tassimo, Keurig’s machine offers several different varieties of coffee styles, called K-Cups, primarily supplied by Green Mountain Roasters. Green Mountain has recently come out with a new line of Energy K-Cups called revv and revv plus, packed with extra guarana and ginseng and targeted at the same groups that enjoy other lines of energy drinks.
 
In addition to their own economical single-serve machine, Keurig is partnering up with Cuisinart in creating a higher end single-serve coffee maker. This upscale version of a standard Keurig model has more features such as one-touch programmable technology, five cup settings and even an iced beverage feature.
 
With coffee options like these inside the home, it makes skipping the morning coffee ship trip a little more feasible.

We Fulfill Merchandise Awards…But How?

April 20, 2010

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We talk about employee motivation and employee recognition programs a lot. For our loyal readers that may not know a whole lot about incentives or award fulfillment, you most likely put two and two together to figure out that award fulfillment and recognition programs is our business.  It’s what we do.

How in the world do we do what we do?

This brief video gives an overview on the operations here at Hinda and how we are a Click and Mortar company. The video quality is a bit fuzzy but the information is there. The above video shows the personalized care that all of Hinda’s customers receive.

The above video is also avaliable on our YouTube channel. Check it out here!

Having Fun At Home: Merchandise Monday

April 19, 2010

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The past couple of years, this recession has caused a lot of people and companies to cut back and more carefully examine their budgets. This year’s Home + Housewares Show in Chicago felt a ripple effect from this, seeing a lighter attendance than normal. Despite a slightly thinner crowd turnout, the outlook was definitely optimistic. Hinda Merchandise Operations manager Jim Valenti said about the show: “Some vendors are pulling back but definitely had enough new things to get us excited. Those who are investing and expanding now will ultimately be winners.”

Economic issues have caused many people to spend more time at home. Things like eating out and going to the movies and buying popcorn and Coke have been replaced by staying home to cook and spending more time at the house doing things with the family. From these patterns a “Have fun at home” trend has emerged. The economy is beginning to make a turn for the better lately and some of the first signs of recovery have been seen in increased spending on the home. Spending is up (on things like cookware, coffee makers and even steam mops) but it isn’t reckless. According to HomeWorld Business® magazine, industry insiders are calling “flat the new up,” meaning spending has improved but consumers are still watching their budgets fairly closely.

So what has been big with consumers? Generally speaking, consumers have really taken hold of a “back to basics” mentality. The demand for products that fulfill basic necessities have taken precedent over ones that are regarded as “higher-end” or luxury” ones. Some of the focus products at the 2010 Home+Housewares show included single serve coffee makers, steam mops and cookware, especially celebrity chef cookware lines.

Check out our next few Merchandise Mondays for more in-depth looks at these featured products.

Free Employee Engagement Tool

April 14, 2010

 

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You don’t have the budget to set up an incentives program for your company employees, however you are wanting to do everything you can to improve overall employee engagement and productivity. What do you do?

Initially, you should plan for the future. You may not be able to afford to run a program now. However, the tides will turn, your budgets will gain more cushion and you will be able to afford a program. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a plan in place when that day actually comes? When that day comes, things will look brighter not only for you but for your employees, so planning on how you will retain those valued human assets will be crucial.

Unfortunately, that day is not today. So what do you do to improve things in the meantime?

Employee engagement doesn’t just lie in cash or merchandise reward systems. Some of the things that drive productivity efficiently don’t cost a cent. Some suggestions include:

-Giving verbal recognition or praise

-Solid LinkedIn recommendation after a job well done

-Genuinely listening to your employees and becoming a more transparent leader

-Clearly stating company goals and how employees factor in to achieving them

These are the types of things that only take a few moments out of your day. They are practices that create a great working culture within the office. Fostering an atmosphere of goodwill and appreciation among your employees makes them enjoy what they do more, improving productivity and developing better employee retention in the long run. If your employees don’t have the perception that you genuinely appreciate their good work done day in and day out, no merchandise rewards program – no matter how well executed or big it is – will improve your bottom line.

What are some other ways to generate a culture of goodwill at work?

Amazon News: What Do You All Think?

April 7, 2010

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 The hottest news in the incentive industry has been Amazon’s decision to withdraw from the incentive fulfillment business. To learn more, check out Incentive Magazine’s breaking news article by clicking here.

Whenever a juggernaut like Amazon withdraws from a particular industry, it’s big news, especially after a relatively short time. While they lasted less than three years in the industry, they were a game changer. They made us better even with our 40 years experience in this industry.

This is definitely a hot topic of discussion for many in the industry. What do you think? Feel free to put in your two cents here on what you think happened or your thoughts on how this affects our industry from this point going forward.

Tight Budgets Now? Plan Recognition For The Future

April 7, 2010

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With a tighter economy, more companies are having to cut different parts of their budget and really tighten up on their expenses.

This is not news.

Along with marketing budgets, another area that takes a hit with many organizations are employee recognition programs. After all, in the eyes of many managers, these programs aren’t near as vital to the company’s bottom line. When you have to trim the fat every which way you can, something’s gotta give. What happens when the economy recovers, as it has begun to do now?

Will your recognition plans for tomorrow keep the employees you have today?

According to many studies (and many of our previous posts) employee engagement is even more vital to your workforce in a recession. The more you focus on employee engagement, the more motivated your employees are and the higher productivity levels you will experience. That higher productivity will help an organization better weather the current economic storm. What if you don’t have the budget to implement employee recognition programs now?

Make plans for later.

The economy will improve and the job market will tighten up. How will you be able to retain your talent when that day comes? Generating ideas for a recognition program now will help that program better succeed tomorrow in the improved market. In an Incentive Magazine article in July of 2009, Peter Hart had this to say:

“Forward-looking companies are using this time to review their recognition strategies and policies. They might not haev the money to implement their ideas today but they are laying the groundwork for the day when their budgets do loosen up.”

How are you planning for tomorrow?