We can certainly understand what it feels like for Brett Hatch, having probably been the first about 15 years ago create a product around “merchandise experiences” and now having to watch as other brands start launching their own “experiential” offerings (see Maui Jim: What It Feels Like to Create a Trend) That’s the price innovators pay, and Hatch’s warning to the marketplace has merit: “Let’s not kill the Golden Goose.

Hatch asserts that in the rush to “product-ize” merchandise experiences, his competitors risk destroying the category with slap-dash programs that overlook the critical human elements required to maximize the experience. These events, he says, aren’t about creating more sales for the brand, or even about the brand itself, but about the brand experience. “It gets down to the details of each event and the employees managing the experience knowing how to make participants feel like winners,” he argues.

A lot is on the line with these experiences. “They almost always involve an organization’s top performers and its executives, and the reputation not only of the event planner but the corporation’s reputation is at stake,” says Hatch.

RRN believes this new category of merchandise experiences is potentially too powerful in the new era of engaging rewards for the malpractice of a few to kill the concept. That said, it’s the mission of RRN to highlight effective practices in all areas of engaging rewards so that practitioners have the tools to make the best decisions for their organizations or their clients.

Written by Bruce Bolger